Different Strokes: Generational Diversity

There’s much talk these days about `diversity’. For most people, the first association is `cultural’. After all, in Canada we are in the midst of a hugely important and complex enterprise to bring together dozens of cultures and make this country ever greater.

Yet there is another diversity developing in our midst and its impact may be as crucial to the workplace as that of cultural diversity.

I’m talking about generational diversity.

There were noticeable differences between the `Matures” (born prior to 1945), the Boomers (approximately 1945-1963) and Gen X-ers (approximately 1964-1980). Now the millennials, born in the 80’s, are coming. And they certainly are different.

Recently, several clients have relayed interesting encounters and previously unfamiliar interactions with millennials. An HR Director with a construction company described being grilled by several candidates as to the company’s `green’ building practices. Anther client, in the financial industry, described the example of a Millennial’s mother who accompanied her son to a high-stakes job interview. She introduced herself and waited for her son in the reception area until the interview was over. Another described a job candidate declared that she was `a Christian’ and as such she would not tolerate any kind of `inappropriate language’ in the workplace.

Sounds `different’? I highly recommend viewing a piece aired on CBS’s 60-Minutes on this topic. I invite you to view it by clicking here.

Organizations will need to change in order to embrace this new type of worker (in fact, the construction company is in the midst of such changes, and they’re pretty major ones). Equally important is the fact that the three generations – Boomers, X-ers and Millennials – will need to work alongside one other, communicate with each other, accept and even embrace their differences.

I believe that this emerging issue is so huge that I have now begun designing a workshop focusing on this very topic. Hey, being proactive is always a virtue, isn’t it?

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