European Day of Solidarity between Generations

Generational diversity

Today (29thApril) is European Day of Solidarity between Generations. This day is raising awareness about the demographic shift in our society. Why is this day relevant and important? The main aim of this day is to raise the issue that we should all be dealing with our ageing workforce and society and we should all be thinking about age diversity. This blog will aim to cover some of the reasons why generational diversity is a current issue for us all.

 Generational Diversity

For the first time in history we have four generations working together and five generations living in our communities. By 2020 there will be five generations working together and as people continue to live longer we all need to be aware of developing age friendly workplaces and communities.

 The demographic trends happening now include the aging of the baby boomer generation, an increase in the number of people over 65 and the increasing numbers of Generation Y entering the workplace. This is a more age diverse population than we have ever known in history so how should we prepare to meet the demands of the five generations living and working side by side? Generation X and Generation Y are now making up the majority of the workforce, with Generation Y employees growing in numbers most quickly and by 2020 Gen Y will make up the majority of the workforce. Baby Boomers are starting to exit the workplace, and we are seeing a rise in the number of over 65’s and by 2050 the number of this over 65’s will have trebled from current numbers.

There is a growing interest in ways to manage and understand different generations in the workplace and Psychologists have been interested in generational changes and whether personality traits and attitudes are linked to the sociocultural environment. The benefit for employers to understand differences and similarities between generational groups is so that they can develop policies to improve satisfaction, retention and productivity and also to ensure they are meeting diverse needs of the employee.

Members of a generation can influence society and the workplace in ways that may differ to previous generations, affecting management styles, expectations, motivation and shifts in workplace culture. The importance for employers is to understand these changes along with the needs and values of their employees so that the organisation can adapt and remain competitive.

By understanding generational differences, managers could be better equipped to improve productivity, innovation and corporate citizenship. A mix of the generations in the workplace will add diversity that is valuable to the organisation, it also adds a layer of complex differences that need to be understood and managed. Although generational groupings may lead to stereotypes, it should be realised that it is important to recognise the individuality in each person, whilst appreciating the assumptions and differences of each generation’s experiences, which now affect their attitudes.

So what is a Generation?

Research proposes the theory that generation is a meaningful psychological variable as it reflects the culture of a person’s upbringing over a certain time period. A definition of generation is an “identifiable group that shares birth years, age, location, and significant life events at critical development stages” (Kupperschmidt, 2000, p.66). A generation can be affected by changes in sociocultural environment and generation experiences.  Generation can also provide an identity for a person as their generational category and associated traits can become an identity which unlike some other social identities, will be with a person for their lifetime. The values, expectations and personalities developed through the generational experience are felt to remain stable through adulthood. Generational values can be influenced by a variety of sources including parents, peers, media, economy, social influences and popular culture. These different experiences will influence a person’s feelings towards authority and organisations, their work values and how they will meet these values.

 Current Generations in the workplace

There are four generations in the current workplace, which are as follows

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will continue to explore and provide more details about each generation and how to embrace generational diverity and its challenges over future blogs. If you require any further details on Generational Diversity, then please contact clare@claremulliganconsulting.ie or check out my website

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