Historical precedent set in today's workplace

June 1, 2007
FOR THE first time in US employment history, there are four generations of people together in the workplace and they have as many attitudes about their

FOR THE first time in US employment history, there are four generations of people together in the workplace — and they have as many attitudes about their jobs, said Steve Drabek of Quality Chekd Dairies.

He discussed generational issues at the Dairy Distribution and Fleet Management Conference March 28-31 in San Antonio, Texas.

“It's no longer possible to be successful by managing others the way you want to be managed,” he said, adding that bridging generational gaps are necessary for companies to thrive — and perhaps even survive.

He defined the four generations as: traditionalists born before 1940, baby boomers born 1940-1960, generation X born 1960-1980, and generation Y born after 1980. He focused on generation X and generation Y.

While traditionalists exhibit loyalty to employers, baby boomers are likely to respond when they feel they are making a difference. Generation Xers, on the other hand, aren't interested in developing rapport and want an employer whose attitude and behavior they can copy. “Practice what you preach for this group,” Drabek said. “Abolish the concept of dues paying in order to succeed.”

When thinking about employees who are in the Y generation, employers must understand it is a buyer's market. “There are more entry level jobs than people,” he said.

For this group, inspiring rather than preaching or dictating appeals to their attitudes. “Avoid being boring,” he added. “Routine is deadening. Become less predictable. Change the way staff meetings are run. Find ways to have fun and rotate assignments frequently.”

Both generation X and generation Y employees require promotions in order to be satisfied in the workplace and respond to praise.

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