We’ve all heard the stereotypes: Millennials are entitled.
Gen Xers are slackers. Baby Boomers can’t adapt. And Gen Z? So far, the
youngest generation to enter the workforce has been dubbed ‘too obsessed with
themselves to produce quality work’.
But, when we dig deeper, we find that the labels defining
each generation have no basis in the real world. That’s the surprising takeaway
from Better Business Bureau’s Success Seminar on improving company culture and
its featured speaker Donna Davis, founder of Kennewick-based Engaged Consulting.
Davis argues that, no matter the age of each employee, they
all want the same things: a basic paycheck, to feel safe at work, to be part of
a team, to be recognized and, finally, feel fulfilled in what they do. At the same time Davis says understanding
generational differences is critical to maximizing individual strengths and,
ultimately, advancing the workplace for everyone. The seminar was hosted by
local business networking group, LINK Up2Us.
The trick to that understanding, I learned, is that each generation
places a different emphasis on those basic needs. This then defines what each
generation values at work.
For example, Gen Xers place a high value on work/life
balance, as well as flexibility. Millennials want a company culture that is
diverse and inclusive, with team building incorporated into it. Baby Boomers,
many of which are still in the workforce, value employee and employer loyalty,
because to them, this signals security. And finally, Gen Z employees want to
work at a job that serves a purpose and has a clear mission.
Business owners need to consider all these factors as they
hire and grow their teams to work toward a larger business development
“It all really comes down to communication and listening,”
Davis said. She stressed the importance of owners and managers taking time to
talk to their employees and get feedback on what’s working and what they would
like to see changed. “We’re talking about immediate feedback – not just
year-end reviews,” she added.
Davis also suggested mentoring programs between older and
younger employees to help bridge the generational gap. “It’s so funny,” she
said. “Most times, we’re just scared to talk to one another. Older Baby Boomers
are scared of younger Millennials. But there’s no need to be. We all need the