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Dennis Zink: Tricia, what is one of the most prevalent concerns that would be affecting the workplace today?

Tricia McLaurin: I'd say by far, generational gaps within the workplace is the most prevalent type of concern and area of strategy affecting most employers. 

Dennis Zink: And what do you mean by strategy?

Tricia McLaurin: It not only requires your knowledge of who the generation gaps are, but how they should be implemented amongst your workplace teams, how their communication differs from generation to generation, and most of all, how they would like to be heard, rewarded, and appreciated. And once you have that understanding, you have success.

Dennis Zink: What are the five generational gaps within the workplace?

Tricia McLaurin: Well, the five generation gaps within the workplace are first, the Silent Traditionalists, followed by the Baby Boomers. Next we have the Generation X-ers, followed by the Millennials, and we complete the gaps with the Digital Natives. 

Dennis Zink: Now I'm assuming that's going from oldest to youngest, is that correct?

Tricia McLaurin: It is. The Silent Traditionalists are usually 70  years (1925-1945) or older, and then we follow with the Baby Boomers, who are between ages 51-69 (1946-1964). We then are followed by the Generation X-er, who begin at around 33 to 50 (1965-1982). We follow up with the Millennials, who begin at about 16-32 (1983-1999). And followed by the Digital Natives, who are 15 years of age and go all the way to birth (2000-today). 

Dennis Zink: Okay. I didn't realize that they're employable in the workplace, the Digital Natives, that is. 

Tricia McLaurin: Well we find now, with the vast growth in these generations, and their gaps, that it is necessary to not only prepare for them taking over the large gaps that will be left from the retirement ages of both those Baby Boomers as well as the Silent Traditionalists. We also see such vast difference in their technological ability, that much study has been dedicated to understanding who they are and how they operate. 

Dennis Zink: And what would you say are some of the negative characteristics or maybe stereotypes of these different groups?

Tricia McLaurin: Well, beginning with the most mature generation gap, which is the Silent Traditionalists, they are definitely considered to be the penny-pinchers, the ones who are very focused on money, how much it costs, and what is being spent. Most of that is attributed to the fact that they grew up during a time of depression, and they really had to be very fiscal with their spending. The Baby Boomers are considered to be the most liberal group, which although that can be very positive and advantageous in certain scenarios, they're sometimes looked at as hard to rein in, and appreciate independence and opportunity. And sometimes, that overwhelms productivity. 

The Generation X-ers are known as the most moody generation. They were the ones who first had independence in entrepreneurial; however, because that great, big American Dream did not work as often expected or as told by their parents, they're very bitter from where they find themselves in their career path, as well in certain aspects of their work life balance. 
 

Millennials are incredibly savvy, with regards to technology. However they have not learned some of the fundamentals that we consider most important for in-person communication and references. They [inaudible 00:05:12] the lines of not being able to represent themselves well, if it is not through a social media or technological device. 

And finally, the Digital Natives. I think the best way to sum them up is that they have been coined as technologically literate and very savvy, but functionally illiterate. Many of the things that we would consider taboo for not having understood, embraced, and acknowledged through implementation, these Digital Natives are just not familiar with and don't have an appreciation of. 

About the Author(s)

Tricia McLaurin

Tricia A. McLaurin has worked in the Human Resources field for 16 years. She started her career in Human Resources in Long Island, New York at Cablevisions Systems Corporation. Tricia obtained her Bachelors of Science, in Business Administration from New York Institute of Technology & her Masters of Art in Industrial Relations from New York Institute of Technology.

PHRS Senior HR Generalist, Paychex
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