The paper "The Challenge of Managing Different Generations in the Workplace" is a great example of management coursework. The contemporary workforce is diverse, not only with regard to culture, work styles, race, ethnicity and gender but with respect to age. With these shifts in workforce demographics, modern workplace comprises of four generations which include Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Digital Natives. Generational diversity brings an assortment of perspectives and experiences to the workplace. However, working with and managing members of diverse generations create workplace challenges given the diverse generations’ expectations, approaches and needs.
Certain mindsets are common to every generation and unique from those held by people from other generations. These disparities subsist because the motivations and values of each generation are shaped through distinctive historical occurrences, innovations and settings of the time period. Given that each generation holds its own distinctive qualities and workplace traits, managers face the challenge of capitalising on their strengths while lowering the impact of their weaknesses in the workplace. To overcome the generational challenges, managers must comprehend how to tackle the individual needs of each generation and capture organisational commitment. This paper highlights the challenge of managing different generations in the workplace and evaluates the implications for 21st-century firms.
The paper highlights different qualities, attitudes and values of each generation and their behaviours, values and attitudes towards work. The paper also underlines the challenges faced by employers in managing these generations and underline recommendations on how to best manage multiple generations in the workplace. Defining Generational Cohorts In the past, most workplaces operated in a way that orders provided by supervisors were basically followed without questioning (Schullery 2013:253). However, the modern generations do not respond well to this style of management and firms have to evolve and change.
In this regard, it is imperative to bear in mind that every generation view the world via a distinct lens that surfaces because of the occurrences that took place in the world as people grew and changed from childhood to adulthood. Every generation’ s set of behaviours, motivators and attitudes apply to a big portion of the populace that descends into each generational segment. While people in diverse generations are different, they share certain behaviours, values and thoughts given their shared events.
According to Schullery (2013:253), the four generations currently in the workplace include the traditionalists or the silent generation (1925- 1945), baby boomers (1946-1964), generation X (1965-1981) and the Millennials, Digital Natives or Generation Y (1982-1999). A generation is described as having been born within a specific period of time and people in one generation share the life experiences of their developing years. These experiences include world events, technology, natural disasters, pop culture and economic conditions. The forces forming and influencing different generational cohorts are powerful during early adolescence and childhood.
According to Parry and Tyson (2013: 19), a generation is broadly described as a particular group that shares age, birth years, significant life events at crucial developmental states and location. With Western economies, most attention centres on the four generations. Traditionalists/Veterans/ Silent Generation The veterans are the oldest generation in the workplace even if most of them are now retired. Hahn (2011: 120) asserts that most senior nurses are members of the veteran generation. This populace of older nurses is dwindling as most of them are retiring.
Members of this generation grew up in times of economic and political vagueness with life experiences that include World War II and the Great Depression. Veterans expect to be rewarded for their hard work and their expectations match up to the instrumentality theory of motivation. With respect to instrumentality theory, which is the conviction that one thing will trigger another, employees are motivated if penalties and rewards are directly tied to their performance ( Armstrong 2007: 124). Given that the members of this generation were influenced by the Second World War II and the great depression, they have been described as being disciplined and conservative.
Veterans hold a sense of obligation and they like formality and a top-down command chain (Hahn 2011: 120). They need respect and prefer to make decisions depending on their past work. The veterans are loyal workers, highly committed, loath risk and are strongly devoted to collaboration and teamwork. Although they may be incompetent, they are stable, loyal, hardworking and detail-oriented.
Armstrong, Michael (2007) A handbook of employee reward management and practice. USA: Kogan Page Publishers.
Griffin, Ricky (2011) Fundamentals of management. UK: Cengage Learning.
Hahn, J.A (2011) Managing multiple generations: Scenarios from the workplace. Nursing Forum.46 (3):119-127.
Kapoor, C & Solomon, N (2011) Understanding and managing generational differences in the workplace. Worldwide Hospitality and Toursim.3 (4):308-318.
Lussier, Robert & Achua, Christopher (2012) Leadership: Theory, application, & skill development. UK: Cengage Learning.
Mathias, Robert and Jackson, John (2010) Human resource management. UK: Cengage Learning.
Papp, Eric (2012) Leadership by choice: Increasing influence and effectiveness through self-management. UK: John Wiley & Sons
Parry, Emma & Tyson, Shaun (2013) Managing people in a contemporary context. UK: Routledge.
Rowe, Kim (2010) Managing across generations. USA: American Society for Training and Development.
Schullery, N.M (2013) Workplace engagement and generational differences in values. Business Communication Quarterly. 76 (2):252-265.