What could have been yet another mildly uncomfortable quarterly lab meeting earlier today turned into a pretty interesting talk about generational diversity in the workplace, thanks to a guest speaker from ODU. For the first time in history, four generations of adults are sharing the workplace at the same time: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millenials. There's some disagreement over what birth years fall into each category, but I'll assume you know who you are.
It appears the Millenials are far more different than the preceding three generations. And now that they're entering the work force, the TraditionBoomerXers have to figure out how to deal with them. While trying to find an abbreviated definition of the different generations, I stumbled upon a quiz. It's based on a differing opinion that one's generation shouldn't be determined by birth year but by the media used. I'm a Gen Xer but discovered earlier today that I have Millenial tendencies -- which this quiz just confirmed. I don't know whether I should be happy about that or not!
But let's see how you all do:
Do you have your own web page? (1 point)
Have you made a web page for someone else? (2 points)
Do you IM your friends? (1 point)
Do you text your friends? (2 points)
Do you watch videos on YouTube? (1 point)
Do you remix video files from the Internet? (2 points)
Have you paid for and downloaded music from the Internet? (1 point)
Do you know where to download free (illegal) music from the Internet? (2 points)
Do you blog for professional reasons? (1 point)
Do you blog as a way to keep an online diary? (2 points)
Have you visited MySpace at least five times? (1 point)
Do you communicate with friends on Facebook? (2 points)
Do you use email to communicate with your parents? (1 point)
Did you text to communicate with your parents? (2 points)
Do you take photos with your phone? (1 point)
Do you share your photos from your phone with your friends? (2 points)
0-1 point - Baby Boomer
2-6 points - Generation Jones [I'm not entirely sure who they are!]
6- 12 points - Generation X
12 or over - Generation Y [Millenials]
And in case you're curious, here's a brief crash course in the different generations:
Traditionalists, also called Matures and Silents, have a strong sense of duty, sacrifice, and loyalty toward companies. Having either fought in WWII or, more likely, having been children during the war, they remember the horror of war, the Great Depression, Pearl Harbour, and Hiroshima. As such, when they settled down, and still today, they weren’t likely to rock the boat, break the rules, or disrespect authority. Traditionalists usually stay with their employers until they retire.
By contrast, and in response to Traditionalists, Baby Boomers asserted their individuality. Baby Boomers initiated the civil rights movement, went to Woodstock, rallied against the Vietnam War. Boomers took control, and today, they remain in control. They run governments, are bosses, supervisors, managers, and CEOs of most companies, dominating the workforce. Never has there been a people more dedicated to a solid, strong work ethic. Boomers work long and hard and like to be seen doing it. It’s no surprise that the term "workaholic," was coined for this generation.
It’s quite fitting that the first generation whose parents could take pills not to have them, would be categorized as "rejecters." Every institution that has said "you can trust us," be it government, church, military, major corporations, and marriage, has fallen flat on its face. It’s hardly surprising that this generation tends to be skeptical toward authority and cautious in their commitments. They grew up very quickly amid rising divorce rates, latchkeys, violence, and low expectations. As a result, this generation has willingly shouldered the responsibility for their day-to-day well-being. Gen Xers assume free agency over company loyalty.
Some might say coddled and confident, Gen Yers or Millennials have mostly known affluence their entire lives, as they were raised in a growing economy, and protected by their parents from an increasingly threatening outside world. Born in a time where cellphones, laptops, remote controls, and travels to outer space are the norm, Gen Yers are living in a world ubiquitous with technology. Today, as they enter the workforce in droves, a population whose size will rival the Boomers, they have positive, can-do attitudes that say "I’m here to make a difference."