Companies Rethink How They'll Manage and Recruit the Multi-Generational Workforce

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Companies Rethink How They

As the labor market tightens and skilled workers become scarce, companies are casting a wider net for employees.  For the first time, they find themselves managing four generations of Americans in the workplace.  The differences between these generations go beyond their age.  Researchers have found that they also approach their jobs and supervisors differently, depending on their generation.
Here are some of the most crucial insights from the latest research:

Veterans, those among today’s workers who were born before 1946, tend to be loyal and comparatively risk-averse; having had their values and expectations shaped by the Great Depression, World War II, and the Post-War boom years.
Baby Boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964, tend to be self-centered, but they give their careers a higher priority than their personal lives.

Generation Xers, who were born between 1965 and 1980, are more willing than Veterans to confront authority figures such as their bosses, and they tend to give their personal lives a higher priority than do Boomers.

Millennials, who were born after 1980, are more idealistic than Gen-Xers, and place less importance on work than Boomers.  They don’t want to work as hard as their parents, but they are eager to make a positive impact on the world.

While the Veterans grew up with radio, the Baby Boomers were the first generation to grow up with television. The Xers grew up with hundreds of cable TV channels and a VCR.  And Millennials were raised in a world in which they take for granted such technologies as the World Wide Web, e-mail, instant messaging, cell phones, and satellite TV.

Today, despite increased automation, we have an unemployment rate of just 5 percent, and we can only expect this to go lower.  As the Baby Boomers begin to retire, there aren’t enough workers from the Millennial and Xer generations to take their places.  At the same time, immigration of high-end professionals is declining as fewer foreign students are applying to American universities.  So the traditional 25- to 65-year-old labor pool is shrinking rapidly.  As a result, according to projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of workers older than 55 will nearly double between 2000 and 2015.

When the members of different generations interact, the potential for misunderstandings is huge.  For example, Gen-Xers are more focused on learning the skills they need to advance in their careers compared to their parents, who measured their success by pay raises and promotions. According to an Associated Press story, that led to confusion at Express Personnel, a franchised staffing service...

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