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Are people’s personalities and working attitudes really that different between the generations? Are your ‘Baby Boomers’ your most productive, experienced employees in the workplace? Or are they the ‘Generation Y’s’, who are hungry and ambitious autonomous players, wanting to rise to the top quickly, but who can also be hostile and a bit work-shy?
There are many preconceived ideas that employers and employees have around these labeled decades of someone’s life. By labeling someone in your workplace, will this benefit your business long term? Will you get to understand the person better by categorizing them?
Massey University PHD Graduate, Kristin Murray has shown there are more similarities in attitudes between the generations than differences. After experiencing the Gen Y mindset firsthand, Murray explored this further by asking a number of participants “what factors made a job more ideal than other jobs?”. The participants were also given a number of statements to rate. What Murray determined was companies must look at the employee as an ‘individual not a label’, and in her opinion by doing so companies will get their best results. Stereotyping different generations could be perceived as detrimental to a business.
Vivan Giang however believes that being “an effective manager is understanding who you’re managing” and by understanding the generation of your workers helps identify who you are dealing with.
Giang says that Gen Y/Millennials are ‘tech-savvy’ enthusiasts who use social media to leverage opportunities, however can have a tendency to focus on promotion rather than working as the ‘team player’. According to a 2012 report by the Kauffman Foundation, 29.4% of entrepreneurs were 20 – 34, with start ups led by millennials an estimated 160,000 in 2011.
Generation X are affective middle management and are the main 'revenue generators'. They adapt to change but require flexibility. On the flip side your bottom line will be spent (for good reasons of course) and Gen X are likely to remain as middle management without striving for promotion like Gen Y. Baby Boomers rank the highest when it comes to being a productive part of an organisation, however they are less flexible and struggle to adapt to change.
Still is there such a gap between decades that they need to be categorised, labeled and put into statistic? This problem isn’t new and has always existed, dating back to The Lost Generation. So the question is how do employers balance the human assets they have or should they learn to cooperate to find techniques to improve productivity in the workplace? Yes the younger generation may be faster and more technologically savvy, however the older generation has skills and experience which can’t be replaced. Which brings us back to the beginning, should we be working with the individual rather than their label?
As Laszlo Bock, a Human Resources Chief at Google says, Google has workers as old as 83 years of age. Bock argues that the only thing different about Generation Y workers compared to the others is that Gen Y actually ask for the things that everybody else wants. 
The question we are asking is what will ‘Generation Z’ bring to the table and will this generation be the game changers in our workforce? You tell us!
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