Video production: Andrew Kennedy Lewis
There are currently five generations in the workforce, from Traditionals to Generation Z, and each has been shaped by the way that they were raised or nurtured by their parents as well as the significant historical, emotional and social events that happened during their formative years. Bea Bourne, graduate marketing professor at Purdue University Global, talks about some of the common characteristics of the younger generations and what leaders should expect.
Read the transcript of Bourne’s interview below:
Part of what’s been happening, and this is in all of the literature, is that now there are five generations in the workforce. And this is historic. We’ve never had that before. We have the Traditionals, the oldest generation born before 1945, we have the Baby Boomers, we have Generation X, we have the Millennials, also known as Generation Y, and then the youngest generation, Generation Z.
Part of why all of that is so significant is that first of all, people’s values and the way that they come into the workforce is shaped by the way that they were raised or nurtured by their parents. And also, significant historical, emotional and social events that happen during the time that a person’s values were programmed in their formative years shapes their worldview. And it’s pretty interesting. I have a little grandson who is a Generation Z, and if I have a problem with anything, he’s only six, I can ask him and he could fix it in a flash. I remember trying to explain to him some technologies, [and he’s] like, “Nana, I get it.” And then he, in no time, was explaining it to me.
They are self-professed digital addicts, so they are very connected with their digital devices. They have always known diversity. So, diversity is a quality that is important to them as well. They want to work with stimulating environments, technology, and they would prefer to report to a millennial manager. Of course that’s not always possible. And they like the idea of working on multiple projects at the same time.
The days of workplace loyalty [are] a relic of the past. Leaders need to realize and to get to know people personally. They need to make sure that they leverage technology and innovation. Also, the idea that I could give someone annual feedback through an annual employee evaluation or appraisal and that’s all I’m going to do, that’s really not enough. They need and want more immediate feedback. Sometimes even daily, how am I doing? And that could take a person aback if they’re not used to that approach. They need to understand the generation, some of the things that drive them, but not from a standpoint of trying to stereotype anyone, but so that they can better appreciate their background and where they’re coming from.