The Flipflop Generation: How Generation “Y” Will Change the Workforce

As I have mentioned in past posts, I was at a Communications Media Managers Association (CMMA) event last week in Arizona.  Before I was a manager I always hated not getting any information about what my bosses got to learn at the events they attended so I vowed when I became a manager I would communicate everything (as much as possible anyway) that I learned.

CMMA brought a speaker in to talk about the differences of the generations in the workforce which I thought was interesting being a person from the Generation “X” era.  She said her son wears flip flops to work and she gives him a hard time for doing so but he says “oh mom people don’t care what I wear to work”.  Each generation is bringing their own style and way of thinking to the workforce.  As older genreations retire newer generations are going to greatly change the way we manage people, think, and work.

As you can see from the graph below, times are changing and in 2013 Generation “X” and “Y” are going to make up the majority of the workforce.  The speaker started the talk saying that there are lots of stereotypes with each of the generations and most of the examples below are sterotypes.  The speaker had each table list out the traits each generation tends to have for 15 minutes and below is what all of the tables came up with.  Obviously when you look at the traits of your generation I am going to bet they do not completely represent you which is why she said we can’t stworkeereotype but you also need to look at the trends and find ways to manage each generation because they have different outlooks on the world.

Birth Years
Workforce 2013
1901-1943 4%
Boomers 1943-1962
Generation “X”
1962-1981 40% 39%
Generation “Y” 1981-2003 16%

She said many people in each of the generation groups tend to have things happen to them which affect their outlook on life.  The list below are stereotypes/traits and
events that likely shaped how each generation perceived the world which in turn changed how they work(ed) in a professional environment.

Veterans Generation

  • Great Depression
  • Winning World War II
  • Military Service
  • Success of large government programs
  • Development of large companies
  • Communication increases with newspaper, radio and automobile
  • Culture of patriotism and strong “family values”
  • Influenced by their parents and their church
  • Went home and stayed dressed up

Veteran Generation Strengths

  • Experience
  • Loyalty
  • Dependable
  • Respect of authority
  • Structured
  • Frugal

Boomers Generation

  • Woodstock
  • Influenced in things other than their parents and church
  • Influenced by television
  • Thought of as the least patriotic group
  • Watergate
  • 2 leaders assassinated
  • Surge of births increased competition for job seekers
  • Influenced by peers, schools, and media as much as parents
  • Went home and changed into their casual clothes
  • Positive economic expansion
  • Television and rock and roll
  • Culture of disillusionment
  • 55+ is the largest segment of Internet user growth

Boomer Generation Strengths

  • Flexibility
  • Good mentors

Generation “X”

  • Friendships
  • Divorce
  • Latch key kids
  • Almost half the number as Boomers
  • Workplace technology
  • Parents downsized from jobs
  • Great unsupervised generation
  • Outsourcing of jobs
  • Computers in every home
  • Online/speed dating
  • Communications by email and the Internet
  • Expect bad things to happen but know they can work through it
  • Choose their close relationships
  • Immediate access to worldwide information
  • Innovative
  • Flexible
  • Literate

Strengths of GenXers

  • Willing to challenge authority
  • Innovative
  • Independent
  • Able to multi-task
  • Results oriented
  • Work-life balance
  • Measure me by my results

Genneration “Y”

  • Potentially larger number than Boomers
  • 24/7 technology and media
  • Every milestone a celebration
  • Went through school in teams
  • Parents emphasized self-esteem, lots of praise
  • Lead public lives (Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, etc)
  • Planned activities and playtimes
  • Open minded, care much less than other generations about biases toward gender, race, sexual orientation
  • Just entering the workforce so not sure what we are going to do. They are going to potentially mirror the veteran and Genxers

Strengths of Millennial Generation

  • Fresh view
  • No fear of technology
  • Willing to challenge authority
  • Innovative
  • Team players
  • Not as biased (more open minded) and they may tend to be less judgmental
  • Able to multi-task

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