Learning to Bridge the Generation Gaps
NEW YORK -- Participants in CUNA's America's Credit Union Conference and Expo gained insight into what has shaped the different generations and how to deal with conflicting generational issues in the workplace.
Meagan Johnson, author and Johnson Training Group partner, started the "Zap the Gap" thought leader session with an exercise that asked the audience to make a list of characteristics of a particularly aggravating Gen Yer they know. As attendees rattled off a list of characteristics such as rude, lazy and irresponsible, Johnson displayed her own list containing the same characteristics. She then revealed that her list was from a 1968 Time magazine article describing the baby boom generation.
"My point is we're really describing a youthful generation and the definition of youthful is inexperienced and new," Johnson said.
Johnson said that for the first time in history we have four different generations in the work force: the traditional generation, baby boomers, Generation X and the new millennium or Generation Y.
Johnson discussed what she called generational sign posts, which are events or circumstances that create characteristics in each generation.
"Sometimes we unintentionally step on people's generational toes," Johnson said. "We have to think about their generational sign posts."
Johnson discussed how the Great Depression influenced characteristics in the traditional generation and how, because the baby boomers are the largest generation, they are team-work driven due to overcrowding in schools.
When dealing with the latest generation in the workforce, Johnson said that it's important to keep in mind that Gen Yers are used to always having someone in their corner as they were raised with stay at home dads and soccer moms and parents who were very involved. Johnson also highlighted that less than half of Gen Y are financially independent, so technically many of them do not need the job you are giving them.
"They are interested if you are interested in them," Johnson said. "This is the biggest opportunity in their entire life. You need to be excited that they're on board."
While Gen Y may not necessarily need jobs, Johnson said that in the past four years they have gone from making up 14% of the workforce to 21% of the workforce.
"We have the opportunity with this new millennium to show them who we are and to learn who they are and when we take that opportunity we have the chance to change the future," Johnson.