61 million workers will enter the workforce this year from Generation Z. Next to millennials, this is one of the largest generations to begin working.
And yet, fewer people over 60 are retiring as well. We’re looking at a diverse office space and a full-on headache for HR departments across the country.
Most upper-level management still remains in the control of baby boomers. While many boomers have adopted mobile tech, they’re still woefully deficient in common skills like typing.
How then do we balance the tech-savvy, yet socially deficient GenZ with the socially viable, tech-deficient boomers? And what about the two generations in the middle?
Today we’re going to examine each generation and look at ways you can accommodate each in an efficient manner.
1. You Think You Know Baby Boomers
It’s difficult to avoid generalization when it comes to generations. A generation spans so many years, it’s difficult to capture everyone. But generally, a generation is less defined by age, but more historical experience.
Baby Boomers remember where they were when Kennedy was assassinated. They came of age during the free-love revolution. They had kids during the 80s and 90s when technologies like the internet and the personal computer became mainstream. And many of them lost their retirement in the crash of 2008.
Generally, they didn’t have time to learn the tech they were buying for their kids in the 90s. They course corrected after the free-love revolution and became one of the hardest working generations in memory. And they value loyalty above many other values.
Boomers work best with visible productivity. This means less digital and more hands-on analogue tech. If you’re trying to accommodate boomers who are uncomfortable with technology, you can still use paper technology and convert into a digital copy.
This technology is called intelligent character recognition or ICR. You can read more now on the technology, but its a specialist technology that interprets written text and converts it to digital text.
2. The Unknown Generation Z
We pretty much always miss the mark when we predict what a future generation will do in the workplace. Our responsibility here is to separate the myths from fact.
Generation Z might have been characterized as an anti-social too-connected culture. But their helicopter parents actually gave them an odd gift. Eagerness for mentorship.
While GenXers were the screw-you generation of independence, GenZ will be the generation of eager learning.
One of my favorite generational theories is the Strauss-Howe generational theory. William Strauss and Neil Howe coined the term Millennial. And their theory brings to the table a more optimistic theory on generational stereotypes.
The theory goes that generations (at least in America) exhibit similar behaviors every 80 years or so. They present four generational archetypes: prophet, nomad, hero, and artist.
GenZ is the artist generation and they parallel the silent generation. After previous generations unmake the world, the artist generation begins reconstruction. We essentially see a new America every 80 years.
My advice on how to incorporate GenZ? Bring them on board with a GenX or Millenial mentor.
They’ll quickly excel at the job and bring to it all the wisdom you wish you had when a Baby Boomer hired you and left you to “pull you up by your bootstraps.” (Speaking from untold experience as a millennial.)
3. GenX Will Always Be Your Solid Core
Generation X spent the last two decades chafing against the leadership of the pragmatic and sometimes stodgy boomers. They’re finally reaching the upper echelons of management and the view looks pretty damn fine from up there.
Their can-do attitude helped them climb the ladder efficiently. They’ve been just as loyal as their boomer counterparts and they don’t fully understand the listless millennial below them.
But they’re ready to lead. It’s time to make way for their generation to become the squad leaders they’ve always meant to be.
In the Strauss-Howe generational theory, GenXers are the platoon leaders of our time. In a time of crises, they gather the troops and conquer the task at hand.
Obama was the first major GenerationX leader of our time and hip professional charisma is a good example of what you should expect from your GenX leaders.
They are also the transitional generation. They remember life without computers, but they were also early adopters. They marvel at tech and love their Kindles and tablets. But they also value the analog world of print media and face-to-face interaction.
They will also be great liaisons between your generals (boomers) and your troops (Millennials and now GenZ). They will be willing to set up physical meetings and go on adventures that require them to unplug from technology.
But they’ll love you if they get to handle all the technology too. Give them the latest tech and they’ll figure out every way they can incorporate it into the workflow.
4. We Didn’t Forget You, Millenials
As a Millennial, I’m happy the next generation is finally entering the arena. For the last twenty years, it’s been a non-stop game of Millennial target practice. And now they’re wondering why my generation is the poorest in recent memory.
Ok. I’ll quit whining. Our generation deserves and craves respect in the workplace like any other. But we also crave a certain kind of mobility other generations don’t typically care for.
This makes it hard for previous generations to gauge how well we’re doing in our jobs. Their old metrics of “they’re at their desk so they must be working” doesn’t fit the Millennials generation.
But give you typically Millennial the freedom and mobility they want and they’ll out-perform most in a shorter amount of time. Their ability to launch into a deep work mindest at the oddest hours of the day is unmatched.
And lastly, they value teamwork above most other qualities. Their desire for inclusivity stems from this early childhood programming.