The Marketing team attended a conference hosted by our wholesale partner, United Stationers, in Las Vegas last week. We attended lots of great seminars by professional speakers and authors that allowed us to learn a lot about our industry and the changing workplace in general. One seminar that I found particularly interesting was given by Seth Mattison, an expert on workforce trends and generational dynamics in the workplace.
Seth’s presentation focused on a different perspective of the modern workplace – the many generations that are currently present in a single office. He noted that this is the first time in history that there are 3 (many times even 4) generations working together in the same office. Seth views “generations” not only by the year someone was born, but also by the events that they witnessed (wars, civil rights movements, 9/11, etc) and what type of world they grew up in (manufacturing age, technology age, etc) because this has a huge effect on their values and who they are today. His presentation discussed the core values of each generation, how they developed these values, how these values manifest themselves in the workplace today, and why we must take advantage of a multi-generational workplace to achieve success.
Here are some of my notes highlighting the values of each generation as explained by Seth:
Traditionalists (born before 1946) Highly impacted by World War II and tough economic times. Value relationships and personal contact. Respect authority and are very loyal to their employers. Accustomed to self sacrifice. Conservative.
Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964) The children of the Traditionalists, they had access to much more opportunity than their parents had experienced – education, political freedoms, etc. Youthful energy and spirit. Competitive. Idealistic/optimistic.
Generation X (born 1965 – 1981) Used to getting mixed messages. More skeptical. Very independent. Value work-life balance. Adaptable. Well educated. This group is well-researched and wants authenticity and transparency from their employers and companies they do business with.
Millennials (aka Generation Y) (born 1982 – 2000) Grew up with technology and very comfortable with it. Accustomed to change happening FAST. Communicative. Highly sociable and use a variety of different media to communicate. They enjoy team work and collaboration. Millennials value flexibility in the workplace.
So what can we take from all of this? Basically, we need to realize how important it is to consider multiple generations in everything that we do in the workplace. From how we communicate to how our entire business functions. Look around you in the next meeting you attend, or even in the lunchroom at your office – it’s a pretty safe bet that there are at least 2 or more generations present at any given time. It is important that all generations are able to work together harmoniously. It’s also important to keep in mind that people from different generations like to communicate differently. It’s good to mix things up between face-to-face meetings, emails, webinars, etc. to find a mix that everyone is comfortable with. During Seth’s presentation he also stressed how important it is to have multi-generational teams/departments within the office because each generation brings a different, valuable perspective and combined that could give your company a valuable business advantage.
Do you have multiple generations present in your office? Do you agree with Seth’s descriptions of each generation? Comment below!