Multiple Generations @ Work: What Should You Do Differently?

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 11.03.09

Will you be in the workforce in 2020?

If the answer is YES, I hope you read our recent blog at Harvard Business entitled Are You Ready For Five Generations Of Workers? We stirred up quite a dialogue about how companies will adapt to having five generations in the workplace in the year 2020.

Here is what we see in our crystal ball leading up to 2020 - five generations and they include:

    Traditionalists, born prior to 1946
    Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964
    Gen X, born between 1965 and 1976
    Millennials, born between 1977 and 1997
    Gen 2020, born after 1997

    Note: While there several reasonable cut off dates used to define the generations, we choose these as they are widely accepted and currently used in a variety of sources such Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott.

The chart below shows Baby Boomers will cede the majority of the workforce by 2015 to the Millennials. Due to their smaller size, Gen X will not have the majority spot in the workplace — and some employers may well focus development and promotion opportunities on Millennials.


So now I pose the question: How will having multiple generations in the workplace affect you and your learning or HR department?

Some thoughts to consider:

Recruiting New Talent: Are you sourcing the next generation of talent where they live? Rather than career fairs and job boards, does your company have a social networking strategy with a presence on Facebook a YouTube channel and a presence on Twitter?

Social Networking With Alumni:
Once mainly used by professional service firms and law firms, now JP Morgan and Lockheed Martin are developing elaborate alumni social networks as a way to attract the “boomerang” employees who already know the firm and can make an instant contribution.

Mentoring: Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen 2020s will increasingly want to develop their careers in the same social and personal ways they live their lives. Expect an increased demand for mentoring and coaching as we head into 2020.

Learning & Development: Look for learning & development to become “social, personal, immediate and highly relevant to an individual’s job.” This will translate into leveraging new technologies such as corporate social networks, alternate reality games and greater use of mobile devices.

So what’s your take on dealing with multiple generations in the workplace? How will your department, your role and your skills need to change?

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