The 20th century was a time of great change. There was the automotive revolution, the post-WWII prosperity boom, sweeping cultural changes in the 60s and the 70s, and finally the computer revolution. All have influenced and helped create the three different generations working in today’s workshops. So who are these people and what makes them tick?
GENERATION Z (Born 1997 onwards)
- Tech savvy
- Flexible and adaptable
- Good at sharing skills
The post-millennial generation best known as Gen Z – individuals now in their teens and early 20s – have seen the most rapid change in technology ever witnessed by man, watching one promising piece of technology displaces another at an alarming rate, and their recognition that little is permanent has given them a willingness to experiment.
Generation Z also has a new attitude to education and work. According to a survey by Culture Coop, 78% of Gen Z-ers say getting a four-year degree no longer makes economic sense, and hundreds of programs, from apprenticeships to boot camps, have cropped up to offer an alternative path.
Workplaces are just beginning to feel the influence of Gen Z. They may not have the formal skills of previous generations, but they may be able to teach older co-workers how to learn new tools and skills on the fly – the same way they have done themselves all their lives.
MILLENNIALS (Born 1981-1996)
- Tech savvy
- Appreciate flexible working
- Care about making a positive contribution
Millennials view work as a way to make a difference in the world so, for them, the impact that they have is important, sometimes even more than money. Millennials also feel a strong need to find their work interesting. Typically, they have not yet made large purchases like houses or cars and, without being tethered to a large mortgage, they are less likely to stay in a job that they don’t like, does not make them happy, or conflicts with their core beliefs.
As children of the computer revolution, Millennials also feel that they should not have to be chained to one location in the workplace. They want to work flexibly and don’t mind being interrupted in their personal lives if that is the trade off. They are happy to blend their work lives and their personal lives to makes one larger, integrated life.
Millennials can be extremely loyal workers, but they see loyalty as a two-way street that places demands on the employer as well as the employee. So if you are looking to attract and keep Millennials in your workshop, it’s important to keep their communication style, their values, and what motivates them in mind so that you can tailor a working environment and a rewards system that works for both of you.
GENERATION X (Born 1965-1980)
- Value independence
- Good problem-solvers
- Focus on results, not process
Generation X grew up during years of significant social change for society and the family. With both parents often out at work, they were the kids who learned how to do things for themselves because no one was at home after school. As a result, Generation X workers tend to be independent and entrepreneurial. They dislike being micromanaged, and they are focused on results and not process; they question doing things according to a traditional process if there is another way of accomplishing a task that is quicker, easier, or cheaper.
As managers, Generation X workers tend to be “hands off” and avoid meetings when possible. While Baby Boomers will put in extra hours for more money, Generation X workers don’t believe they will get ahead using that strategy, so they put in their required hours and go home. What they value most is having the time to do what they want.
So, if you are looking to attract and keep Generation X workers in your workshop be aware of the above. Generation X workers can be extremely pragmatic and creative in problem solving, but they may be more likely to keep work separate from the personal lives.
BABY BOOMERS (Born 1946-1964)
- Appreciate the 9-5 workplace structure
- Enjoy meetings
- Independent and self-reliant
Baby Boomers grew up in an era of unprecedented prosperity for the working class. Many were the first in their families to go to colleges or trade schools, and the expanding economy created jobs that they filled. They hit the familiar milestones of adulthood – employment, marriage, children, and homeownership – much earlier than Millennials typically do today.
Baby Boomers came of age when financial success was achievable through hard work. They are much more likely to consider working overtime and to remain loyal to a business because of their history with it.
They’re also independent and self-reliant because they were born at a time when the attitude was that broken things can and should be fixed. They grew up taking things apart and putting them back together. And because they grew up working from 9-5 on the job with their co-workers they understand and appreciate an interactive workplace. Baby Boomers like meetings, and feel happy working together with the rest of the workforce in the same building, even when they’re working independently.