Generational Differences Analysis
A generation is a group of people born at a particular time, or the average time in which children are ready to take the place of their parents, normally around thirty years of age. A generational cycle would take 70- 90 years being the length of the life of a human being (Xenakis, 2008). Pew Research Center in its paper Millenials: Confident, Connected, Open to change, has named four current generations as follows:
* 18-29 years -Millenials
* 30-45 years -Generation X (Gen-X)
* 46-64 years -Boomers
* 65+ years -Silent (Paul Taylor et al, 2010)
All routine and daily operations in our organizations depend on interactions between individuals from the four generations. Characteristic attitudes of a generation are explored through generational dynamics which involves looking at the historical events through the flow of ages, and making future forecasts by looking at past generational attitudes (Xenakis, 2008). The Silents are in the old age, and many of them are retirees, but a few of them are likely to be found at the highest level of the organizational structure such as the Board of Directors. They are known to be good team players who are dedicated and committed to the success of the organization. The Boomers on the other hand are mostly self centered and optimistic but also good team players. Gen-Exers are flexible, career oriented and comfortable with changes at work. They like autonomy on the job and are eager to learn new skills (Xenakis, 2008). Millenials are organized, confident, more technologically advanced and focused on achieving goals.
The first generation to come of age in this millennium is the Millenial generation. Passage into adulthood generally begins at the age of 26 years, and most of the young adults in the current society are the Millenials. Many of the challenges organizations are facing today are coming from the Millenials as opposed to their elders, the GenXers and the Boomers. In many organizations, the age of retirement is 55 years and therefore the current workforce is mainly made up of Millenials and Gen Exers. Middle line managers in the organization are mainly Gen-Xers followed by Boomers at higher levels. Current Challenges
According to Pew Research Center, Millenials are more upbeat in the jobs they do, but they do not like being followed and given directions. Of the four generations, the Millennials are the only ones who do not cite “work ethics” as one of their distinctive qualities even though they are more ethnically diverse than their counterparts, the GenXers (Paul Taylor et al, 2010). This puts organizations at cross roads since they have to decide whether to sacrifice work ethics at the expense of accrued dividends resulting from Millenials` work or otherwise. Millenials are hard working, highly productive, very clever and highly optimistic, but are less religious and not prepared for realities of workplace.
Pew Research Center reports that Millenials are job hoppers, not surprising because most of them will be working at least three more decades. They do not build careers on there first job since they still hope to find another job and build a career in future. As an organization, it means that we cannot fully rely on sustained results from them and this increases the levels of uncertainty in the organization. Uncertainty increases the risk of failure for organizational responses and makes it difficult to compute costs and probabilities associated with decision alternatives (Daft, 2012). Consequently, a last in first out kind of employment plan may be used on the Millenials implying that the latest employees would be the first to be laid off.
Millenials are the most educated generation and hence they feel they are able to handle highly academic tasks and jobs. This is true but the rate of movement from one job to the other will compromise the standards of these jobs in the long run. They want to work in an environment where differences are respected and valued, where people are judged by their contributions and where talent matters (Xenakis, 2008). They do not like being bossed and this creates conflicts with the Gen-Xers and Boomers who are mainly holding managerial posts in organizations.
Another challenge is based on cyber crimes. Millenials are ever connected through phones, computers, other electronic gadgets and social sites on the internet. This implies that they are prone to cybercrimes or may be easily engaged in the crimes. Such crimes are detrimental to organizations and can even lead to an organization collapsing. The millennial generation appeared during an economic recession experienced in 2010 and hence they have been undergoing hard financial times. This has affected their financial status and many of them claim not to have enough money as reported by Pew Research Center. It is therefore easy for the Millenials, of whom a third of their population is unemployed to be engaged in cybercrimes for money, ultimately ruining the affected organizations. When dealing with a massive problem like cyber crime, even the most sophisticated and capable organization will soon reach the limit of its effectiveness (Daft, 2012).
Parents have been affected by challenges facing millenials since many of the youths have to rely on their parents for financial support and upkeep. In turn, those Millenials who depend on their parents become ill prepared for the demands of workplaces, and do not perform efficiently as their peers. Morals and standards of the community, and Parenting are not an issue to them.
They claim that since they have no family responsibilities, they can think more on careers and ways of getting more money for themselves.
Millenials also have a powerful political influence, engaging themselves more in political affairs, and this in turn affects the government structure as an institution. Other than the lacking work ethics which is necessary in government operations, Millenials who engage themselves in cyber crimes can distort government databases and jeopardize its operations.
Organizations, colleges and other institutions are equally affected by these challenges. Most of the colleges are filled by Millenials pursuing higher education with high expectations after graduating, but not keen on careers. They do not want to make some mistakes their parents made in deciding their careers. They are very casual and always want to keep their employees happy (CBS News, 2008).
Implication of these challenges on organizations
Organizations have to find ways of working with the sweet talking bosses who are transforming the office, and are in some ways better than their elder generation (CBS News, 2008). Organizations have to balance between the high dividends they are getting from the millenials with lack of work ethics, and upholding the status quo. Morals and ethics in the organization have to be compromised to suit the situation at hand. Job hopping experiences will result in less stability in the various departments and divisions of the organization. Casual employment of the Millenials is done because you never know when they will leave for a `greener job`. New office ethics will be developed and they will have to be embraced as the generation moves on. It is reported that todays manager is more diplomatic, hardworking but incorrigible. They want to transform the office, to be flexible, make the office a nice place to be, and always need to be praised (CBS News, 2008).
The “new” generational challenges facing organizations in the future
Organizations will face greater challenges in future from technological advancements which are well rooted in the learned Millenials. New innovations and advancements appear every day making the environment more complex, and the uncertainty of their effects on organizations rests in the future. These will have both positive and negative effects and the challenges might be more complex and enormous. As an example, the growth of the social networks and cyber connections with the ever connected Millenials will grow in complexity, resulting in unforeseen challenges in future generations. If such networking is extended and embraced in cyber crime, then organizations will also be operating at very high crime risks. The rate of evolution of the environment is high and organizations that cannot cope up with newly evolved changes in the environment will be faced out in the long run.
I also foresee a generation which will be very tired in future due to work. At the retirement age of 55 years, a Millenial would have worked for well over 30 years. By the time the other generation takes over, organizations will be full of people who are tired of work and therefore ineffective resulting in declined productivity. Employment trends will change in future and permanent or full time jobs might as well fade off. A compromise on morals and ethics for dividends and other desired outcomes would be part of survival strategies for organizations.
How organizations can handle current and the future challenges.
Collaboration and cooperation in fighting challenges like those of cyber crime is inevitable. Organizations will have to develop common grounds of operation where they can achieve a common goal as international or even global teams other than being competitors. Inter-organizational relationships should be developed that will ensure mutual survival in the organizations` ecosystem. As a common goal, developing cyber security would have no boundaries in organizations since all of them are exposed to a common risk. Organization would partner and team up in tracking sources of risks, collecting data and sharing information on a collaborative basis so as to fight crime.
With the advancement of technology, it is important for organizations to cooperate other than compete, by forming and developing collaborative networks that can be used to handle issues and challenges common to organizations regardless of their entities. Future challenges are uncertain, but generational dynamics can be useful in making predictions and forecasts which can be used to prepare organizations for any eventualities. The behavior of organizations must be dynamic following evolutionary trends to focus on future generational challenges.
Millenials are a generation that cannot be ignored at the moment, and they are a force in all sectors of our lives. They are taking responsibilities from the GenExers endowed with different qualities and characteristics. The generational differences have their strengths and challenges and the millenials are not an exception. Gen-Xers are more stable at the workplace, and Boomers are assuming the middle age as they start retiring from work. The millenials, distinctive in technology, will take us through to the next generation, and therefore generational dynamics cannot be ignored.
CBS News. (2008, May 25). Retrieved December 18, 2012, from cbsnews website: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch
Daft, R. L. (2012). Organization Theory & Design. Cengage Learning, Inc.
Paul Taylor et al. (2010). Millenials: Confident, Connected, Open to change. Pew Research Center.
Xenakis, J. J. (2008, June 22). Generational Dynamics. Retrieved December 16, 2012, from generationaldynamics.com: http://www.generationaldynamics.com/cgi-bin
Generational Differences Analysis