There are 4 people in a company and one is at 50 hours per week and mentoring other people, one is working from home, one is working on two computer screens with headphones on and is alone and one is currently working on 4 projects at once. Which one is a baby boomer, Generation X, Millennial or Gen Z? Now, before you get all worked up and think, “this isn’t me”, these are just stereotypes widely believed.
The beauty in the generations is that we all provide value. The multitasking Gen Z, the innovative, tech savvy, motivated leaders that are Millennials, the adaptable, problem solvers that are Gen X and the hard working, team players that are baby boomers are all needed on a successful team.
A generation is a group of people born around the same time and raised around the same current events. There are five generations that make up our society. Working in hospitality, you have to know who your client, attendee or colleague is and what type of communication they prefer as well as their expectations. The Silent Generation are born between 1927-1945 and since many are transitioning out of the workplace I am going to focus on the other four generations.
Baby Boomers: 1946-1964
Viewed as thoughtful leaders or experts in their field. They are slower to embrace and adapt to social media sites and view technology as requiring a learning process. They tend to feel younger people do not have as strong a work ethic as they do, and that makes doing their own work harder.
Colleagues: Working with someone in this generation, you would want to give him or her their space personally. If you are working with someone in this generation, they may expect you to prove yourself and work as hard as they are.
Client: You should schedule meetings with them face to face or on the phone rather than contacting them via email. They value and respect hierarchy so when working with them you should respect that as well.
Generation X: 1965-1980
Viewed as independent and grew up that way because of two working parents as well as divorce becoming more widely accepted. Many in this generation display a dislike for authority and structured work hours, dislike being micro-managed, and embrace a hands-off management philosophy. Gen X is very good at maintaining a balance between social life and work. Not afraid to grasp the different social media outlets and are flexible to work with face-to-face communication as well electronic communications.
Colleagues: You would want to set them up with a flexible work environment and not micro manage them. Their freedom to make their own decisions is how they will thrive.
Clients: They are short on loyalty and wary on commitment so you have to provide a major value for them to consistently use your products or services. They are unimpressed with authority so your status will not necessarily influence them.
Millennials or Gen Y: 1981-2000
Millennials have become the largest generation in the US workforce in the last two years and the largest growing consumers bringing the greatest lifetime value. Millennials show different attitudes towards employment and sales and marketing which challenge Gen X in the work place. The growth of technology has been a very easy adjustment for Millennials. They are well educated but are also very sheltered. They demand an equal work-life balance, flexible hours, work-from-home options and mobile technology to support their lifestyles.
Colleague: They have huge expectations of themselves and value academic achievement so make sure there is always a plan in place for their advancement or they will find it elsewhere. They prefer a relaxed environment and accolades so continue to give them feedback on how they are doing.
Client: Millennials schedule everything so make sure to make it onto their calendar before just stopping over. They expect immediate results and answers as they have always had access to information. Make sure you are prompt when you reply to a Millennial. They tend to rely on blogs, instant messages, tweets and text messages rather than phone or face to face so, that is how you should reach out to them.
Gen Z, iGen or Centennials: 1996- later
Gen Z lives in world that is constantly updating and may not have a strong attention span but will be better multitaskers. They have higher expectations as they were born into a world with overwhelming technology. They expect businesses, brands and retailers to be loyal to them. If they do not feel appreciated, they are going to move on.
Colleague: As a manager of a Gen Z you will want to keep them busy with tasks as they will move back and forth from project to project. If they get bored, they may want to move on.
Client: Respond to a Gen Z client as soon as possible. If you don’t, they may think that something is wrong. Continually tell them they are valuable to your business, send thank you cards and let them know Happy Birthday!
The events, technology and moments that the different generations have experienced have shaped how they view the world, the workforce and even their overall life goals. In order to understand and interact you have to have an understanding of what these differences are. They are not bad. Take some time to mentor or be a mentee; you will gain a lot more than the facts on the subject matter. Knowledge is the only thing that grows when you pass it on so it is the best gift you can give to yourself or another person.