Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Baby Boomers and Generation X and Y in the Workplace

Some people try to categorise the behaviour of people in the workplace with what generation they are.   Like Generation X people do this, and Baby Boomers do that.  Personally, I think that behaviour at work have little to do with the period that people grew up in and more with the age these people are at the moment.

When you're young and start working, you have grown up spending most of your teens being exposed to the latest trends in information distribution, whether it's computers and the internet now, television before that, radio before that, newspapers before that, books before that. You have a hard time comprehending the world without these sources.

There is always a new source of influence for a newer generation. Any group, regardless of generation type, usually benefit from better access to information and education and mental stimulation than anyone before them.  Whether they use it is a different matter, but the options are there.  The point is that what decade you grew up in influences your taste in music and fashion more than your attitude to work and behaviour in the workplace.

When you're done with formal education (or simply done with being a adolescent) you still want to question a rigid work environment and still want something more like your student environment where you were surrounded by people who wanted more freedom. It's normal to question large organisations and culture, partly because you're at an age where you are not in control of the business world or government yet.

After that, you're at the age of having a family. Then all of a sudden giving the best to your family matters, and you start to work hard. The baby boomer thing is a mostly Anglo-Western society thing, where there was population increase. If you look at any area with large populations in Asia, middle class people are very competitive and have to work very hard in order to maintain their class level.

When you're younger, being loyal to an employer doesn't matter so much, because your nature of exploring makes you change your job, friends and surroundings, and you move around a lot, in order to have more experiences and find what you like. When you get older you don't seek this excitement and you seek the comfort of your family and children and grand children and an established community

You realise how much of your money during your life you have wasted on entertainment and depreciating material goods. You also realise soon you'll be at the age that you won't be able to work any more, so being efficient with money is important. You also realise that you won't be in the position to move easily if your environment changes, or be in control of your society any more, so for you a stable society is important.

You are tired of the stresses of having to think up new solutions to the same old problems, and do things slower and in a pragmatic and disciplined fashion as you have developed through your life.  You start to become more conservative, and even your political opinions shift this way.

These attitudes to life and work isn't determined whether you grew up in the swinging 60s or are of Generation Y, it's just simply how you progress as you age and how you act your age at work.

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