Considerations for managing generational diversity.

Whether employers are ready or not, there are significant changes coming to the workplace that will challenge the status quo. In The Great Generational Shift: The Emerging Post-Boomer Workforce, Bruce Tulgan of Rainmaker Thinking says that there are already many factors to consider, such as globalization, technology, institutional security, the information environment, human diversity, and virtual reality.

Using data from more than 400 organizations since 1993, the whitepaper presents research that supports the idea that there is a parallel happening in the workplace of an aging generation and an influx of younger employees. Currently, "The Baby Boomers (born 1946-64) are 30%, Generation Xers (born 1965-77) are 27%, and The Millennial Generation is 42%," it says. By 2020, Millennials will make up more than 51 percent of the Western workforce, compared with less than 20 percent made up of Baby Boomers.

Tulgan states that "there is no going back to the workplace of the past." As the generational shift continues, what will this mean for employers and workers?

Advertisement

For employers, it will be important to manage the transfer of knowledge from Baby Boomers, provide flexible work conditions, be prepared to do more with less as working arrangements become more transactional, and have the ability to ramp up with employees as quickly as possible. Individual workers will face the challenge of working "smarter, faster, better" with little to no job security, while having more options with work-life balance. Managers will need to be highly engaged, balance the generational diversity, conduct coaching, offer guidance, and provide more hands-on support.

Managing the generational shift in the workplace may prove to be tricky for organizations. However, preparation, openness, and flexibility can prove to be the keys to success. Trends and research are speaking loudly.

The most important question: Are employers willing to listen?