Archive for the ‘Baby Boomers’ Category

You Know You’re Growing Older When…

While searching for a file on an old hard drive, I came across this list of 25 ways to know you getting older.  I saved this list over 10 years ago. As a 40-something Baby Boomer at the time, I had no idea how accurate it would be!  But as an almost 60 year old Boomer, the list is painfully true.  Fortunately it’s also a tremendous source of smiles, if not outright laughter.  Here goes:

  1. Everything hurts and what doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work.
  2. The gleam in your eyes is from the sun hitting your bifocals.
  3. You feel like the morning after, and you haven’t been anywhere.
  4. Your address book (or contacts) contains only names ending in M.D.
  5. You get winded playing chess.
  6. Your children begin to look middle aged.
  7. You decide to procrastinate but then never get around to it.
  8. Your mind makes contracts your body can’t meet.
  9. A dripping faucet causes an uncontrollable bladder urge.
  10. You know all the answers, but nobody asks you the questions.
  11. You look forward to a dull evening.
  12. You walk with your head held high trying to get use to your bifocals.
  13. Your favorite part of the newspaper is “25 Years Ago Today.”
  14. You turn out the light for economic rather than romantic reasons.
  15. You sit in a rocking chair and can’t make it go.
  16. Your knees buckle and your belt won’t.
  17. After painting the town red, you have to take a long rest before applying a second coat.
  18. You’re startled the first time you are addressed as “Old Timer”.
  19. You remember today that yesterday was your wedding anniversary.
  20. You just can’t stand people who are intolerant.
  21. You burn the midnight oil after 9 PM.
  22. Your back goes out more than you do.
  23. The little gray haired lady you helped across the street is your wife.
  24. You have too much room in the house and not enough in the medicine cabinet.
  25. Your sink your teeth into a steak and they stay there.

Bette Davis once said, “Old age is not for sissies.” Ain’t it the truth?

Do you have any experiences that are missing from this list?  Please share them with us aging Baby Boomers!

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Round 2: Resentment Grows Between Boomers and Millennials

There appears to be a lot of white elephants in the room these days, none bigger than a generation gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials.

On this day last year I posted an article asking, “Are Generational Differences Turning From A Gap Into A Chasm?”  Today I read two articles that reveals the gap is still a very real issue that few organizations are addressing adequately.

In one corner we have Steve Israel representing the Baby Boomers. Steve posted an article titled “Millennials vs. Boomers: You twerps owe us everything.”  That about says it all.

Steve wrote:

If it weren’t for us baby boomers, most of you wouldn’t be here. Literally.

We are your parents. You sprung from our wombs, from our love.
We don’t just deserve your respect; we deserve your eternal gratitude — for the food you ate, for the clothes you wore, for the roofs over your heads. By the way, we’re still giving food, clothes and roofs to the more than 10 million of you who still live in our homes.

And what have you millennials — the 50 million Americans born between 1980 and 1995 who are becoming adults at the start of this new millennium — given us?
Nada — except the smug expectation that we should give you more.
How ungrateful can you be?

In the other corner is Millennial (aka Gen Y) Timothy Malcolm. Timothy has quite a different opinion. He urges Baby Boomers to “Give up the reins, you geezers.”

Timothy wrote:

The main reason we 20-somethings still sleep at mom’s house is because mom and dad won’t get out of the work force. They’re clogging the pipeline.

Baby boomers make up the largest generation in American history. The current 20-something generation is almost as large, ironically, thanks to the boomers having all those kids.
Because of improvements in health care, boomers are not only living longer, but they’re subjected to the salacious whispers that, yes, even in old age, they can remain vital! They can keep working, climb mountains, row boats and — gasp — have sex! Think about Lucy and Ricky or Archie and Edith cavorting in beachside bathtubs. Yeah, it is ridiculous.

Sure, we 20-somethings have some ridiculous traits, too. We waste time on Facebook, but as one of the original users, I’ve seen the boomers completely ruin that social networking site. Our music might be hard to understand, but at least I can’t take credit for Cher. And, seriously, when are the Who going to stop?

Timothy concludes his article with “So stop wasting our generation’s chance. And stop wasting our country’s possibilities.”

So far, the first round of the attitude gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials has been subdued and mostly a war of words.  But as the recession lingers on and Gen Y joblessness remains high, one can only wonder if the resentment building up will boil over in a full fledged battle.

Round two anyone?

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Surge in Seniors Strains Economy and Caregivers

Republicans thought people could save for it. Democrats thought government could provide it. Both are wrong. Caring for an aging population is beginning to strain our economy and stress out a rising legion of caregivers.

Political parties have taken turns over the past 50 years controlling government and they have both failed to solve the problem. Now we are stuck in neutral and rolling backwards.

By 2020, forty-three states will see an increase of over 70 percent in their 65 and over population compared with just 20 years earlier. And 29 states will see an increase of 70 percent in their 85 and over population during the same period. In fact, only 1 state, Arkansas, will see an increase of less than 50 percent in both the 65- and 85 and older demographics.

This is an amazing success story in longevity, but a problem that the government, our friends and neighbors, and the economy is unprepared to absorb.

First of all, nearly all retirement and health care projections are based on a working population capable of supporting older residents. Unfortunately the percentage of working age adults is decreasing. In 2010, 60 percent of the U.S. is aged 20-64. By 2030, the proportion of these working ages will drop to 55 percent. The age dependency ratio, the proportion of seniors to workers, will almost double over the next 20 years — from 21 per 100 workers to 39.

This “silver tsunami” is also creating a legion of people caring for adults and the elderly. Twenty-nine percent of the U.S. adult population, or 65.7 million people, are caregivers, including 31 percent of all households. These caregivers provide an average of 20 hours of care per week.

American caregivers are predominantly female (66%) and are an average of 48 years old. That puts working Baby Boomers in their prime working years balancing a career with caring for aging parents and raising their own children. The sandwich generation, as this group had been called, often reduces the number of hours they work. An even greater number continues to work but loses focus and becomes more stressed. For employers this translates to lower productivity, more accidents and mistakes, and the loss of talent.

As the aging tsunami breaks on the shores of our economy, new challenges will alter the workplace landscape. Political parties are clearly divided on how to fix the problems. Solutions will come from individuals and local communities. Employers that recognize opportunity in this sea of change will reap the benefits as our workforce and nation grows older.

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Generational Views on Career Challenge Employers

The more things change, the more different generations of workers become the same, suggests a new study about generational views on careers from Robert Half. The research shows that workers of all ages have a new appreciation for company stability when making career decisions. Yet, four out of 10 professionals polled said they are more inclined to look for new opportunities outside their firms as a result of the recession.

Cross-generational teams bring challenges and rewards. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of hiring managers said managing multigenerational work teams poses a challenge. But more than one-third of workers polled felt having a group of employees at different experience levels increases productivity.

What are the most significant generational differences when it comes to workforce planning?

  • Generational views on next career steps differ. For Gen Y, looking for a new job is the most common post-recession career plan, whereas Gen Xers polled said they are more inclined to update their skills. For baby boomers surveyed, staying put at their companies was the most commonly cited post-recession career plan.
  • More Gen Yers (36 percent) than Gen Xers (30 percent) and baby boomers (24 percent) planned to look for new job opportunities.
  • Gen Xers polled were more inclined to enhance their skills sets (38 percent) and build tenure with their companies (33 percent) in the aftermath of the recession than other generations.
  • A greater percentage of baby boomers (54 percent) than Gen X (46 percent) or Gen Y (39 percent) respondents said they will work past the traditional retirement age.
  • More Gen Xers (34 percent) than baby boomers (27 percent) said they had increased their retirement savings since the recession began.
  • More baby boomers (54 percent) than Gen X (45 percent) or Gen Y (35 percent) employees identified the greatest challenge when working with multiple generations as having differing work ethics and approaches to work/life balance; more Gen Yers attributed difficulties to differing communication styles (29 percent for Gen Y versus 16 percent for both Gen X respondents and baby boomers).

But different generations don’t always see the world differently? Many generation similarities do exist.

Understanding the values shared by nearly all employees, particularly in light of changing economic conditions, can help companies enhance their recruitment and retention efforts,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International and author of “Human Resources Kit For Dummies,” second edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.).

  • For all generations surveyed, working for a stable company and having job security were two of the most important aspects of the work environment, beating out having a short commute or working for a socially responsible company.
  • When evaluating employment offers, salary, company stability and benefits were the most important factors for all three generations.
  • Health care coverage, dental coverage, vacation time and 401(k) matching were the highest valued benefits for all generations surveyed.
  • The most commonly cited benefit of being part of multigenerational work teams was bringing together various experience levels to provide knowledge in specific areas.

“Many employees, particularly Gen Y professionals, are biding their time in their current employment situations and plan to make a move when they feel the economy is on firmer footing,” said Brett Good, a Robert Half International district president. “Now is the time for employers to take action and outline career paths within their company for strong performers. “

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Grandparents Surpass Grandchildren in the Labor Force

teens-seniors-workforceFor nearly four decades Baby Boomers have been in the driver’s seat of politics, consumer trends, lifestyle decisions, and jobs.

But 2010 was supposed to be the turning point when Baby Boomers left the workforce en masse, retired off into the sunset, and turned the workforce over to heir apparent Generation X and the up-and-coming Millennials.

But thanks in part to the recession, for the first time on record there are more seniors than teenagers in the American labor force.

The orange line in the chart refers to the number of teenagers — workers aged 16-19 — who are in the labor force, meaning they either have jobs or are actively looking for jobs. The blue line shows the number of workers over age 65 who are in the labor force.

As you can see, starting last fall the number of older workers surpassed the number of teenage workers for the first time since at least 1948, when the Labor Department first began collecting statistics. If you look at just the employment of older workers versus teenagers — that is, how many workers actually have jobs — you will also find that older people surpassed teenagers for the first time recently, in mid-2008.

A recent New York Times article cited three primary reasons for the flip?

1.   There was always a certain percentage of Baby Boomers and the oldest generation, the Veterans, who would continue to work.

2. Older people are having to work longer.

3. The shift away from defined-benefit pensions toward defined-contribution pension plans, plus the sharp declines in equities since the financial crisis have all conspired to make it more difficult for older people to retire.

4. A weak economy plus a higher minimum wage might be discouraging employers from hiring teenage workers.

Regardless of the cause, joblessness in the Gen Y (aka Millennial) Generation is beginning to make history. According to a recent Pew Research Center  survey, a smaller share of 16- to 24-year-olds are currently employed — 46.1% — than at any time since the government began collecting such data in 1948.At best long-term implications of low unemployment for young workers include young adults living at home longer, higher college enrollment, and more internships. But a deep concern is growing how delayed entry into the workforce will translate into employee preparedness, not to mention the loss of lifetime earnings.

More older people needing work + more younger people giving up on work = grandparents surpassing grandchildren in the labor force. But that’s only a short-term statistic? Are we prepared for the long term consequences?

 Read More Sobering thoughts on the U.S. Labor Market

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The High Price of Laying Off Younger Workers

The Millennial generation is in the midst of experiencing their first recession. This experience has caused them to witness a new side of corporate America…and they don’t like it one bit.  This could spell trouble for corporations down the road. To paraphrase an old English idiom, “hell hath no fury like a generation scorned.”

SBR Consulting, a Charlotte firm specializing in helping companies attract, retain and reward different generations in the workplace, has just published their first of three studies on how the Great Recession is affecting the Millennial generation. The results suggest that due to poor management and poor handling of layoffs, 70% of respondents who were laid off would not go back to work for their company and 55% are either unsure or do not want to work for corporate America again.

It also reveals another significant clash of styles between generations. Veterans, born before 1946, and older Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1954) pledged loyalty to the company in good times and bad. Layoffs were taken in stride because what was good for the company in the short term was good for the employee and community in the long run.

When older generations were laid off or even fired, they did not talk about it at home. They certainly did not broadcast it to the world. The Millennial generation, however, was raised on 24/7 breaking news and instant messaging. They share personal information readily. They are not afraid to talk about being laid off. They are even moral vocal about how their layoff was handled. These conversations and perceptions are then shared with hundreds of friends and thousands of strangers via social media sites like FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

That’s bad news for any business that handled a layoff poorly. Not only is this news spread virally, but now that Google and other search engines are indexing tweets, updates, and blog posts, this bad news creates a permanent digital imprint for anyone to see. A battered reputation poses a significant risk for any business that handled it badly.

The study found that early warnings of layoffs and respect throughout the process meant a great deal for Millennials that were subsequently laid off from their jobs. “It’s not personal, it’s business” does not work for this generation. They take layoffs personally.

Only 34% felt the company cared about them during the layoff process and left with a positive perception of the company. Compare that to the 64% who received no warning of a looming layoff. Only 12% of this group felt the company cared about them during the layoff process and left with a positive perception of the company.

Also posted on my blog Workforce Trends at Bizmore.com

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Survey: A Look Into the Mindset of Today’s Young Workers

Roll back the clock about 40 years and 74% of young people said there was a generation gap between themselves and their parents.  Of course if you are a Baby Boomer, you recall growing up in war and recession.

It’s not surprising then that 79% of Generation Y, according to a recently-released Pew Research Center report, today acknowledge a generation gap, the highest level ever recorded. The parallels between the late 1960s and today are uncanny — two wars and a recession. You’d expect the tension between young adults and parents to be paralyzing. Surprisingly, you would be dead wrong.

The members of this Gen Y generation, ages 10 to 30, are BFFs (best-friends-forever) with their parents. It is reported that college students typically check in with their parents about 10 times a week. If you speak with some parents and young adults, it’s even more often than that. Kids and parents dress alike, friend each other on Facebook, listen to the same music and fight less than previous generations. Gen Y even assert that older people’s moral values are generally superior to their own.

Like every preceding generation, Gen Y is a product of their parents. But unlike their Boomer parents who were raised to believe that second place was first place for losers, Gen Y were raised to believe that everyone who plays is a winner. For the record, born between 1980 and 2000, these “trophy kids,” also known as Millennials, have been coddled by their parents and nurtured with a strong sense of entitlement. Their anxious parents were afraid of their children growing up with an inferiority complex. In games, it was common for everyone to receive a trophy — win or lose — thus the name “trophy kids.”

Kids no longer fear the bad report card either — teachers do. This generation was treated so delicately that many schoolteachers stopped grading papers and tests in harsh-looking red ink to avoid bruising the child’s precious self-esteem.

If the bond between parents and children is so strong, why does nearly 8 out of 10 Gen Y believe there is a gap? It is in their use of technology where Gen Y sees the greatest difference, starting perhaps with the fact that 83% of them sleep with their cell phones. It is also this technology that young people believe can be leveraged to build community. They think technology unites people rather than isolates them. Technology is a means of connection, not competition.

That hunger for community further distinguishes them from the radical individualists of the baby-boom years. In fact, in some respects Gen Y emerges as radically conventional. Asked about their life goals, 52% say being a good parent is most important to them, followed by having a successful marriage; 59% think that the trend of more single women having children is bad for society. While more tolerant than older generations, they are still more likely to disapprove of than support the trend of unmarried couples living together. While they’re more politically progressive than their elders, you could argue that their strong support for gay marriage and interracial marriage reflects their desire to extend traditional institutions as widely as possible. If boomers were always looking to shock, millennials are eager to share.

The greatest divide of all has to do with hope and heart. In any age, young folk tend to be more cheerful than old folk, but the hope gap has never been greater than it is now. Despite two wars and a nasty recession that has hit young people hardest, the Pew survey found that 41% of millennials are satisfied with how things are going, compared with 26% of older people. Less than a third of those with jobs earn enough to lead the kind of life they want — but 88% are confident that they will one day.

Let’s hope that optimism doesn’t get extinguished with the passing of time and maturity. Based on the way things are going, future generations will need every bit of hope and heart they can muster.

Also posted on Workforce Trends (How to Manage Age and Attitude in the Workplace)

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Sizemore sizes up ‘Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization’ in HS Dent Forecast

In one of those “this made by day” moments, a friend of mine forwarded a review of my book Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization.  The review was written by Charles Sizemore at HS Dent and published in the March 2010 edition of the HS Dent Forecast. Not only was I pleased – no, ecstatic – over the author’s insight and comments, it was especially rewarding because it was completely unsolicited and unanticipated.

The book review in its entirety is posted below.

“What is a generation?” asks Ira Wolfe in his new book Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization. “A generation is a group of people who are programmed by events they share in history while growing up… a common set of memories, expectations, and values based on headlines and heroes, music and mood, parenting style, and education systems.”

I would agree with this definition, and would add that it ties in with the concept of generation gap. Parents (and sometimes even older siblings) often do not “get” their kids. They don’t understand their vocabulary. They don’t understand what motivates them. And they absolutely, for the life of them, cannot understand why a pieced eyebrow is cool. (Who am I to criticize…in my childhood, coolness was defined by acid-washed jeans that were tightly rolled around the ankles and permed hair and makeup on male rock stars. Go figure.)

Mr. Wolfe’s book is an interesting study on the relationships between the generations in the workplace. It’s very similar in substance to the generational work done by William Strauss and Neil Howe (Generations, The 4th Turning, Millennials Rising), but it’s much less academic and, frankly, quite a bit easier to digest. Corporate executives who find themselves managing a multigenerational workforce should find the book quite valuable, as should anyone struggling to understand the generation gap in their own home, for that matter.

Wolfe speaks of the generations as if they were single members of a large family. At this stage in their careers, the Baby Boomer managers are “parents,” while the Echo Boomer employees are “kids.” Generation X, stuck in the middle as always, is analogous to an unloved older stepchild, cut off from the nurturing love fest between the Boomers and Echo Boomers.

Of Generation X, Wolfe writes “Coming of age in the shadow of the Baby Boomers virtually ensured that this generation would be overlooked and ignored; like Great Britain’s Prince Charles, they are the workplace ‘heirs apparent,’ waiting endlessly and impatiently to assume leadership.”

And like the unfortunate Prince Charles, their waiting has no end in sight. Gen X is hitting a “gray ceiling,” as the incumbent Boomers refuse to retire and make room at the top. But while Gen X waits for its chance to take the reins, Gen Y is slowly coming up behind them. Given the symbiotic relationship between the Boomers and their “Mini Me,” the Echo Boomers, Gen X is right to worry about being leapfrogged.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Gen X is a very entrepreneurial generation; with the Baby Boomer generation acting as an 80-million-person roadblock to their career advancement, it is understandable that Gen Xers believe that their best chance to excel is through starting their own businesses. Of course, Gen X also watched their parents and older brothers suffer through the layoffs and restructurings of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Seeing quality professionals lose their jobs through no fault of their own made Generation X grow up a little cynical and mistrusting of large companies.

Wolfe also has a secondary theory for Generation X’s independence and somewhat prickly demeanor. While the Echo Boomers were the “trophy kids” who were coddled from birth by their well-intentioned soccer moms who slathered them in antibacterial hand wash every time they left the house, Gen X was the “latch-key kid” generation. They had to fend for themselves at a young age. They also weren’t required by law to wear a helmet and knee pads every time they rode their bike to school, nor were they required to sit in a car kiddy seat until puberty. In short, they weren’t smothered by their mothers (or by the “nanny state”), and they were allowed to be kids — little Huck Finns and Tom Sawyers who got into a lot of trouble but ended up stronger for it.

Don’t underestimate this personality characteristic; you don’t realize how valuable it is until you see the alternative: the neediness of the Echo Boomers (also called the “Millennials” and “Gen Y”). In smothering their children with things like “My kid is an honors student” bumper stickers, the Baby Boomers have created a codependent monster in the Echo Boomers they raised. Echo Boomers require constant attention and affirmation in the workforce. They’re emotional and oversensitive. And they don’t understand why it’s not ok to wear an eyebrow piercing into a place of business if you want to be taken seriously or that it’s rude to have your face buried in a text message when someone is talking to you. (This is my personal pet peeve. Though she is now a married professional in her mid-20s and generally has good manners, my Echo Boomer kid sister has the annoying habit of doing the “Blackberry prayer” when I’m trying to talk to her. Her husband does it too. It’s maddening.)

Wolfe does an excellent job of describing the frustrations felt by managers today:

At school, teachers accentuate the positive. Kids no longer fear the bad report card — teachers do. This generation was treated so delicately that many schoolteachers stopped grading papers and tests in harsh-looking red ink to avoid bruising the child’s precious self-esteem. Managers in turn must now tread lightly when making even the most benign critique…

How did these kids get this way? For many Millennials, few “accomplishments” didn’t rate some type of acknowledgement. In games, it was common for everyone to receive a trophy — win or lose — thus the name “trophy kids…” The lesson shifted from “second place is the first place for losers” to “everyone who plays is a winner.”

This generational tension is a bit ironic. While many managers and most of the media targets the kids, the blame might fall squarely on the very people doing the loudest complaining — doting parents, teachers and coaches. After all, the grumbling Baby Boomer managers are the same indulgent parents who raised the millennial generation after starting families late in life or vowing not to make the same mistake twice with children from second and third marriages.

Wolfe, a graying Baby Boomer, is certainly no crotchety old man wagging his finger at “kids these days.” Quite to the contrary. (If anything, it is me, your younger Gen X writer who fits that description.) Wolfe sees a lot of untapped potential in this young generation. What I might consider a short attention span, an inability to focus, and insufficient attention to detail, Wolfe calls “hyperalertness,” defined here as an “advanced form of mental flexibility.” I would consider instant messaging three friends while simultaneously uploading photos to Facebook, blogging about rock bands, playing Second Life, and listening to an iPod to be a colossal waste of time of absolutely no economic value. I certainly wouldn’t call it “multitasking.” But I guess that makes me old school.

At any rate, Mr. Wolfe’s objective is not to pass judgment. His objective is to help managers better understand those under their control. And on this front, Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization is a useful too. I’d recommend this book to anyone in a position of authority over a multigenerational workforce.

Charles Sizemore, CFA

This book review was originally published in the March 2010 edition of the HS Dent Forecast.

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The Hypocrisy Behind Gen Y Criticism

Entitlement has become a dirty word these days, especially when you pit a Baby Boomer with a Gen Y.

When I asked my audience recently what words first comes to mind to describe Gen Y (born between 1980 and 2000), a Baby Boomer (born between 1946 and 1954) shouted out “entitled!” “I’ve worked hard every single day since I graduated high school,” she said angrily. “And these damn kids expect to get everything handed to them today.”

Just then, a phone rang. It was the angry Baby Boomer’s. Without missing a beat, she picked it up and started talking. She didn’t turn it off. She didn’t apologize. She didn’t even tell the caller, “Sorry, I can’t talk now.” She just started carrying on a conversation, before striding out of the room.

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Free download! Four Generations in the Workplace

Just minutes ago, a client asked me this question: “is there a page on your website that describes each generation?”  I said, “sure. Let me send you the link.”  And then after dozens of searches using a variety of keywords on my multiple websites, I had one of those blinding flashes of the obvious! After writing and publishing thousands of articles and newsletters, I never took the time to write one providing a simple, succinct description of all four generations. DUH!

So…here’s the fix. What follows are descriptions of the four distinct generations working side-by-side in the workplace along with their most significant values.

Who are the Veterans?

Born Before 1946. Veterans have a very strong work ethic. “Just git’er done” could be their motto. Give an impossible task to a Veteran and somehow, someway it will get done. Most have served in the military or been married to someone who did. As a result, Veterans tend to be very respectful of seniority, title and rank. Because their world outlook was shaped by the Great Depression and World War II, Veterans have a very practical outlook (make do, reuse, recycle) and know how to put money away for a rainy day.

Key Veteran values: Self-sacrifice and dedication. 

Who are the Baby Boomers?

Born between 1946 and 1964. Baby Boomers invented the 60-hour workweek.  They are competitive to their own detriment at times with a “work-til-you-drop” work ethic. They have a history of turning endings into beginnings.  Now entering traditional retirement age, they have no plans for porches, rocking chairs, or seats at bingo tables.  Retirement is not the end of a career but the start of a career transition. They are optimistic about their own lives – they believe that if you set goals and work hard, you can achieve whatever you set out to do. Boomers have less respect for rank and hierarchy than their predecessors but still respect the hierarchy of leadership, especially when they can be part of it. They set long-term goals and have the “no pain-no gain” attitude to set them through. 

Key Boomer values: Hard work and be a team player. 

Who are the Gen X?

Born between 1965 and 1979. Gen Xs are the free agents of the workforce – independent, self-reliant, and entrepreneurial. Because they don’t find any value in wasting time with non-essential stuff, they shattered the management philosophy of “if ain’t broken, don’t fix it.” Gen Xs grew up alone because both parents were working. In addition, 40% of their parents were divorced and/or lost their jobs during the ’80s and ’90s. As a result, Gen Xs are very concerned about life balance and fiercely protective of family time. They tend to be skeptical and pragmatic, and value leadership by competence. They have no respect for service, title or rank because their parents had all three and lost their jobs anyway. Their career paths create a mosaic of work, learning, family and even sabbatical. When they receive an email at 11 PM from their Boomer boss, they don’t think “Wow, she works hard” but “Wow, she might be over her head and can’t handle the workload.” 

Key Gen X values: Life balance and respect for individuality. 

Who are Gen Y (also known as Millennials)?  

Born between 1980 and 2000.  Gen Ys are very entrepreneurial. Most worked at legitimate jobs before they left high school. Gen Ys are technology-savvy. They’ve never known a world without mobile devices and 24/7 connectivity. They see themselves as citizens of the world and feel very connected through the Internet. Gen Ys fly to Europe to visit friends and family as easily as Veterans and Boomers crossed state lines. Family vacations take place on cruise ships instead of cabins by the lake. They have better relationships with their parents than many Gen Xs and Boomers, and have a strong interest in teamwork (although they define “team” differently than Boomers and Xers). And despite an ongoing debate about the human ability to multi-task, they seem to be creating a new frontier for juggling multiple activities simultaneously. 

Gen Y values: Making a difference in the world and respecting diversity.

I’ve also excerpted the chapter from my book Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization that describes each generation in more detail. To download a free copy of this excerpt, click here.

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