Generation Y And The Traditional Workplace

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Generation Y and the Traditional Workplace: How to Utilize the Skills of Generation Y in Today's Workplace

Generation Y and the Traditional Workplace: How to Utilize the Skills of Generation Y in Today's Workplace


Backpacks slung over their shoulders, clad in khakis and Birkenstocks and plugged into their Palm and MP3 recorder, today's Gen X and Y workers are challenging traditional definitions of the workplace. This paper discusses generation Y and the traditional workplace and how to utilize the skills of generation Y in today's workplace.


For the first time in the history of work, the workforce comprises four very different generations. Creating a workplace where members of all generations can work harmoniously and productively side by side, cubicle by cubicle, is an important challenge every business today is facing. Accommodating the generational differences of the workforce means "in with the old, in with the new and everyone in between."

Today's managers need to know and understand where their associates are coming from in order to coach them successfully, and ultimately to grow and retain them. This involves, first and foremost, understanding the differences that set each generation apart.

Managing four generations of workers-the Matures, Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Yers-is nothing if not challenging. In her newsletter, Generations, Claire Raines explains that Gen Xers assert "Boomers are too political; don't practice what they preach; are workaholics; need validation; and are self-righteous." On the other hand, Boomers believe Gen Xers typically "aren't loyal; have no work ethic; are not committed; are self-focused; and have no respect.

In order to effectively manage a multigenerational workforce, it is essential to identify the characteristics that define each generation. During an educational presentation on "Managing Four Generations in the Workplace," at IREM's Annual Conference last year, Judy and Cam Marsten, a mother and son public speaking team who have extensive experience on the subject offered a profile of each key generation group.

The Matures lived through the Great Depression and WW II and came of age during the Cold War. They went from a relatively poor childhood to a comparatively affluent adulthood, brought about by the era of economic prosperity that followed WWII. Matures tend to buy into the status quo and often seem to possess a traditional sense of dedication to their company and job.

"The Matures believed in duty and honor and country," explained Judy Marsten. "They believed in hard times and then high prosperity. They knew what it was like to do without, to sacrifice, and to not have. They had national pride so doing a good job to them was the most important thing. Age meant seniority and they believed you could work your way to the top."

She added that as a group, the Matures value loyalty, hard work, dependability, respect for authority and the position they hold, and praise and recognition.

However, from the perspective of the Boomers, the generation following the Matures, these older workers represent their former bosses-the old guard that is slowly fading from the ...
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