I first stumbled upon this article at PBS NewsHour thanks to a post by Boston Gal and think it has quite a bit of relevance with the readers here. Those of us who are in their twenties or thirties have likely experienced a bit of generation gap in regards to older co-workers.
In many companies, it’s now common to have four generations — those in their early 20s, Generation Y, working side by side with people in their 70s, the baby boomers, and the 30-somethings of Generation X.
This disparity among co-workers can certainly cause problems as each generation has their own way of thinking and solving problems. As older generations are beginning to focus on retiring you have younger people coming in hoping to move up in the ranks. All the while you have the fresh new talent out of college who are trying to jump ahead of everyone in line. Work ethic is one area that has changed drastically over the past few generations:
The baby boomers are “work, work, work.” It’s a very important part of their live. Gen X is “work, work, I want to work some more, let’s talk about it.” And Gen Y is “work, work, you want me to work even more? How lame. I think I’ll I.M. my friends and tell them how lame you are, asking me to work even more.”
This shift from very hard-working to just working and expecting more benefits comes from a sense of entitlement, which the article talks about a bit and I have discussed here a few times as well. As products of positive reinforcement and our teachers telling us we can be whatever we want to be it has created a sense of individualism and entitlement, whether good or bad. Clearly it is possible to be anyone or do anything, but it takes more than a stroke of luck to accomplish this. One young worker says:
We feel like we are entitled to have creative jobs that are very interesting, that are high-paced, that we’re our own bosses.
Unfortunately that could be an unrealistic expectation. Not all jobs are creative or interesting, some are very slow-paced and you generally don’t become your own boss right away. Feeling entitled to this sort of career only leads to disappointment when one finds themselves working for someone else and doing the same mundane tasks on a daily basis. Again, this is not inherently a bad thing, but it is a vastly different way of thinking when compared to forty and fifty year old co-workers.
Anyway, I encourage you to read the article, it has quite a bit of good information and opinions from all age groups and how companies are tackling this generation gap.
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.