There’s a generation gap that’s showing up in the workplace. Older employees are seeing their fundamental expectations about the work world changing, as younger workers bring new norms to the job. This has companies looking for ways to bridge the gap and foster effective relations among the generations.
At a recent roundtable discussion with leaders from the southwestern Virginia Manufacturing Industry, the talk turned to the work ethic, and how it appears to be changing, as more and more millennials enter the work world.
“And they talked about, ‘I can’t get people to work.’ ‘I can’t get them to come on time. I tell them I need them to start at 6am and they look at me like I’m crazy and I can’t get them to put their cell phones down.”
Leadership Development Manager and Trainer, Lorie Cox saw this as an opportunity, “...to help the generations work effectively with each other. Sometimes they tend to work grudgingly with each other. We really want that to be an effective relationship and everyone getting the most out of work when they come to work each day.”
Most baby boomers’ work ethic never included things like social media or alternative work schedules, while for millennials, that's key to their work life balance. Cox says boomers need to understand this.
"They have these preconceived notions, one of which is, that our younger generation is lazy. It’s not that they don’t have a concern about time it’s just that they look at time differently in their responsibilities and where they need to be and what they need to be doing. There is a way to adapt to that to where you can be make a … work life balance for them and meet their needs while they’re meeting your business needs.”
Cox, who is with the Wytheville / Bland Chamber of Commerce, is offering a class on Maneuvering Generational Differences Thursday October 11th. She says participants should expect to gain an understanding of the advantages of generational diversity and how to leverage the characteristics of each generation.