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Bridging the Gap: Generations in the Workplace
by Darin Green

Recruiting, retaining, and motivating today’s workforce is becoming more and more complex. Today’s workforce and marketplace are comprised of several generations. For the next 10-15 years there will be three generations of employees at work - Baby Boomers, Xers, and Generation Y. Generational differences can create a minefield of friction, conflict, and high turnover or create new opportunities for higher retention, harmony, and a greater competitive advantage. By better understanding the philosophies and behaviors of these generations and utilizing the tools needed to manage and market to this new generational reality, you and your organization can stimulate growth while benefiting from and enjoying the wave of generational change.

Here are a few simple suggestions for preventing generational collisions and motivating Gen X:
  1. Accept Them.
    Accepting Baby Boomers and Generation X is the first key to harmony and excellence. Showing disapproval of each other’s generation only creates conflict and turnover. Don’t refer to each other’s generation in negative terms. Avoid saying things like, “When I was your age this is how life was.” Be in the present, not the past.
  2. Use the Coaching and Mentor Approach
    when working with Gen X or a cross-generational workforce. Show people that you care about them and respect them.
  3. When managing Gen X:
    1. clearly define the job
    2. show how the job will be measured
    3. provide constant and quick feedback
    4. praise and reward accomplishments.
  4. Motivate Gen X into Peak Performance.
    Xers want their own space, and they want to work at their own pace. This doesn't mean that they are not team players and will not complete projects on time. It simply means to avoid micromanaging them and they will get the job done—and be very innovative while doing so.
  5. Flexibility is Power.
    If possible, have a flex schedule. Xers work to live; they do not live to work. If you respect this they will outperform most, and you will build loyalty and improve productivity.
  6. Use Non-Financial Incentives.
    Non-financial incentives can be very attractive to this generation. Be creative with the benefits your company offers. You will be very surprised at how this increases your ability to recruit and retain this unique generation.
  7. No Secrets.
    Sharing information about what’s going on in your organization is very important to Xers. Sharing information helps build trust and integrity—two important ingredients to motivating Gen X.
  8. Don’t Worry - Be Happy.
    Enjoying the work environment is very important to Generation X. It is an archaic belief that all work has to be done in a serious and dry manner. Bring some play and fun into your workplace. It doesn’t have to come at the cost of productivity. In fact, productivity and creativity will increase. So will the vitality of your organization.
All contents of this article, unless otherwise noted, are ©2003–2004 Darin Green Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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