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  • Pauline Hoffmann

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

Generations and generational differences....what does it mean? Also, listen to Executive Producer, Bryce Murphy, get all kinds of fired up!

For several years my speaking engagements have included topics like Dealing with Difficult People, Conflict Resolution and ..... Dealing with Different Generations at Work. They all go together. It turns out different generations view other generations as difficult. It results in conflict which requires resolution. The circle of life at work.

This week we present data about generational differences and counter some myths about those differences in the workplace.

I start by referencing two videos I often use in my classes to show how millennials and baby boomers are perceived by the other. I share them here.

I then discussed what makes a generation or what the definition of a generation is. The Center for Generational Kinetics has a great definition as well as other information about the generations alive today.

In addition to the tongue-in-cheek videos linked above, we discussed the "Okay, Boomer" phenomenon. This is worth a listen because Bryce, a Gen Z/Millennial, gets all fired up about the attacks on his generation. As a member of Gen X, the forgotten generation, I sat and watched. And laughed.

To see what defines each generation in a number of categories, please reference the wonderful graphic below by Shawn Johnson, multi-generational solutions expert.

I also found a fun graphic from the International Association of Fire Chiefs that describes the generations. This is the graphic I reference on the podcast (though I prefer the graphic above):

Members of all five generations are in the workforce to varying degrees. Pew Research has additional information about each generation, its population in the workforce and its demographic makeup. I share some of the graphics from the Pew Research site below that highlight the "newest" generation to hit the workforce, Gen Z. Additional information about Gen Z may be found via the article, "On the cusp of adulthood and facing an uncertain future: What we know about Gen Z so far."

Robert Half conducted a survey of finance company leaders about what they see as the greatest generational differences to affect the workplace. Three topics came to the fore: communication skills (30 percent); the ability to adapt to change (26 percent); technical abilities (23 percent).

In all our talk about Okay, Boomer and the generational war that seems to be being waged, there are some myths associated with the different generations in the workforce. The Hay Group, a global management consulting firm, researchers analyzed data from over 5 million employees across the world to make comparisons across different generations. We discuss each of the myths on the podcast. The report is worth a read.

I also reference the work of Herzberg, a reference I often use in classes. He theorized that there are different employee motivators that all employees regardless of generation need in the workplace. I like to use the following graphics to illustrate the theory:

It turns out that regardless of generation, we all face similar motivators and want similar things from work. While we note generational differences, we should celebrate generational similarities.

The Arbitrary Random Stat (ARS) for the week had nothing to do with generations. Real Simple Magazine posted a link to the results of a survey conducted by Spring Hill Nurseries that asked people to choose their favorite flowers to plant based on a list of 20 common flowers. They determined which flowers were most popular in gardens by state in the U.S. Take a look at the site and see how your state rates.

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