Members Learn About Different Generations in the Workplace at Learn at Lunch

A group of engaged individuals from Chamber member organizations enjoyed a presentation from Tina Welch of Welch Performance Consulting on different generations in the workplace last Tuesday, Dec. 12, at Wesley United Methodist Church. Chamber Learn at Lunches are sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities and this specific Learn at Lunch was also co-sponsored by PA CareerLink Columbia/Montour Counties

Welch, a former HR executive who now runs her own consulting business, began the presentation by noting that she did not have any magic bullets that would automatically solve generational problems in the workplace. However, her presentation was done with the hope that making organizational leaders and others aware of the various differences in generations and what each is able to offer in terms of strengths can provide opportunities for HR and other leaders to implement strategies that can overcome generational barriers.

Why is this important for any organization that has multiple generations of individuals working for it? Take these statistics for instance.

– The proportion of working 65-69 year-olds in the U.S. has risen from nearly 18% in 1985 to 32% in 2011.
– During each quarter of 2016, over a quarter million Americans turned 65. 
– Millennials will make up the majority of the workforce by 2025. 
– Millennials have passed Baby Boomers as the largest generational group in the workplace.
– Fewer than 1 in 3 American workers are committed to the success of their organization and are engaged in their work
– 74% of Americans expect to work even after “retirement.”
– 68% of corporate recruiters say that it is difficult for their organizations to manage millennials

With those statistics in mind, and with turnover costing any employer, large or small, approximately 6-9 months of the lost employee’s salary, it is more critical than ever that organizational leaders understand the benefits, values and needs that each generation and individual brings to the workplace and be able to apply specific strategies to encourage communication and collaboration across the generations as well as to diffuse conflicts. 

Attendees were given a handout that in general terms, defines the characteristics and stereotypes as well as the workplace needs of all four generations — Traditionalists (born 1922-45), Baby Boomers (born 1946-64), Generation X (born 1965-1979) and Millennials (born 1980-2010), as well as those of “cuspers,” which are those born near the end or beginning of a specific generation. This is especially important for Xennials, a micro generation born during the cusp years of Generation X and Millennials (1977-1983). This group often shows characteristics and stereotypes of and has similar workplace needs as those usually attributed to one or both of Generation X and Millennials. 

At the end of the workshop, Welch asked the attendees to name one thing they could do immediately when they returned to their workplaces to help facilitate better inter-generational understanding and cooperation, while allowing for the fact that some workplace policies obviously can’t be changed immediately or at all. Some of the responses included taking a look at the standard employee orientation presentation, keeping notes on individuals such as board members and organizational volunteers in order to be able to best communicate and/or facilitate activities with them, as well as taking a look at a company cell phone policy.