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Workforce generations…

So I was walking through the office before sunrise the other day.  Heading to the coffee machine – you know – the usual ritual.  My colleague Craig was already strapped in and online in a meeting at his cubical.  His phone was set to mute (demo account set to stun!).

Now I don’t know exactly how old Craig is, but his LinkedIn profile shows he graduated from Michigan State with his under graduate degree the same year I did.  Close enough (LoL!)  As I strolled by heading towards the coffee machine and commented about Craig being the “early bird”, his response was classic:  “Came in early – wanted to get a good seat.”

That’s right – two Old Guys starting their day early.

Much is being said and even more is being written about the generational make-up of our workforce these days.  With so much chatter going on – I can’t help myself – I’m weighing in.

How about you?  Which generation are you part of?  And which generation of employees do you think is the most productive; the most valuable; the most important generation for today’s business setting; and into the future?

In offering full disclosure – I’m a proud member of the Baby Boomer generation.  And I’m biased.  In fact, a former colleague of mine who I worked side-by-side with for a few years (and a member of the Generation X generation), once commented (in a very complimentary way I might add) “The old guy can still hunt!”

My online research suggests that as of 1/1/2015, there are 4 generations in the workplace:

  • Traditionalists aged 65-88
  • Baby Boomers aged 46-64
  • Generation X aged 30-45
  • And Generation Y (aka Millennials) aged 16-29

So, with this mixture of old and young; experienced and naïve – my bad – I meant inexperienced; hard workers and smart workers; I ask again, which generation provides the most business value contribution?

BTW – as a side note; where do you fall on the work hard – work smart continuum?  Here’s what my Traditionalist friend has to say:

Work smarter, and as hard as you can. 

Tom Hopkins

Well, my colleague Craig and I can certainly vouch for the “work hard” side.  That early morning?  Not a single Millennial in sight.  They started rolling in at about 8:30.  What was the John Wayne line in the movie Cowboys?  “Burning daylight”, (when it was still dark!)

OK, maybe the Millennials at our company prefer a flexible schedule.  Much has been said and much has been written about our Millennials.  Here is one of the recommendations on how to motivate Millennials by Lauren Sveen in her Denver Post article: 

Studies of millennials by the Intelligence Group, a youth-focused research company, have revealed that 74 percent of them want flexible work schedules.

Really, Captain Obvious?  In fact, when you read her full article (see Welcoming Millennials to the Workforce ) is there anything she suggests for Millennials that Baby Boomers would not appreciate too?

Look at Frederick Herzberg’s summary published in the Harvard Business Review.  And his research was from the 1950’s and 1960’s – aka “Traditionalists”.  The more things change, the more they stay the same I guess.

Marty Birk, a Division Vice President of Sales I worked under “back in the day”, used to ask, “Gary, if you were going into a selling war would you take So-and-So with you?”  Well, in 2015 I don’t care what generation my colleagues are from.  If they can get the job done – harder or smarter – that’s good ‘nuff for me.  How about you?

GAP

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6 Comments


  1. Richard Kirby
    Sep 17, 2015

    GAP,

    I think you are going to enjoy the new movie “The Intern”…

    http://www.theinternmovie.com

    Think you will, especially like it after this article…

    Richard


    • Gary
      Sep 18, 2015

      Great recommendation Richard! Can’t wait to see it:) Thx, GAP


  2. Nancy
    Sep 17, 2015

    Gary, it’s interesting that you write about the different generations in the workforce. I recently read an article in the Missouri Baptist University newsletter about three generations going to college. It’s very interesting and I thought you’d like to read it: https://www.mobap.edu/xyz-the-three-generations-of-mbu/ I agree with you as the bottom line….getting the job done and done right is what I’m looking for.
    Thanks for this!


    • Gary
      Sep 18, 2015

      Thanks Nancy – great read! And just when we thought it was safe to come out, here come the Digital Natives 🙂 Thx, GAP


  3. Nathan Sumner
    Sep 21, 2015

    Have you solved the question of how to sell them?

    Our firm has done a lot of research on generational selling. For some reason, I always feel like I’m in the dark.

    Great entry.


    • Gary
      Sep 25, 2015

      Welcome to the modern day, sales profession Nate – we’re almost always in the dark 🙂 Thx, GAP

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