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Generations at work

In a context where human capital makes all the difference when the time comes for a company to ensure competitiveness, it becomes essential to motivate all employees to adhere to the culture and values of the company. As there is no unique strategy to efficiently manage personnel and generate engagement, it is important to understand generational differences to make sure that there is something in it for everyone.

Thus, management must learn to recognize the specificities of any given generation, and its strengths and motivations in a work environment. In general, a generation can be defined as a group of people of approximately the same age, and who have gone through the same specific historical events, such as a crisis or a period of economic prosperity, a war, or major political changes that might have affected their views of the world. Experts agree to the identification of five generations among the current active population in Canada, whose age interval may somewhat vary, but whose key elements remain. Following are a few characteristics of each generation and what motivates them.

Veterans (born between 1922 and 1945)
Traditionalist, silent generation…

•  Saw their parents work hard to make ends meet;

•  Grew up without television;

•  Consider job security as very important and do not tend to change jobs; are very loyal to their employer.

Involve them in coaching, they have a valuable baggage of knowledge.

Baby-boomers (born between 1946 and 1965)
Sandwich generation…

•  Transformed society in terms of values, religious creed and politics;

•  Witnessed a period of great growth and prosperity;

•  Have experienced bureaucracy, the development of social programs and the rise in divorces;

•  Are generally well educated and enjoy better living conditions than their parents.

Propose them a job that offers career development opportunities and that remains interesting.

Generation X (born between 1965 and 1976)
After baby-boom generation…

•  Were the first to play video games;

•  Are skeptical and independent, and have an entrepreneurial spirit;

•  Have experienced several important changes in the fields of economy and technology.

Avoid micromanaging them and provide them with a family-type and entertaining work environment.

Generation Y (born between 1977 and 1991)
Echo boom generation, post-boom generation…

•  Born with technology and therefore accostumed to change;

•  Are curious, dedicated to become socially involved, and avid to learn;

•  Grew up with unlimited access to the world via their computer screen.

Offer them flexibility and the possibility to meet new challenges, to exploit their strengths.

Generation Z (born after 1991)
Generation C (communication, collaboration, connection and creativity)…

•  Are the youngest group in the active population;

•  Are good team players and like to engage in community activities;

•  Are resourceful with technology;

•  Have a sense and a pronounced passion for everything collective, at work and in every domain of society.

Those new collaborators being better informed, less gullible, and less naive, they require more authenticity in management styles.

Even though the characteristics of each generation are a good indicator of the type of management and work environment that suits them the best, one must refrain from sticking to stereotypes. The main thing remains to respect the uniqueness of each person with whom we interact, although keeping in mind generational differences.