Generational Diversity

Traditionally when we speak of diversity, multiculturalism and the impact on how we as human beings interact in the workplace we think of race, sex, gender, ethnicity or religious beliefs. There is a growing realization that the gulf of misunderstanding and resentment between older, not so old and younger employees in the workplace is growing and problematic.   [ (Ron Zemke, 2000) ]

It is my belief that there is a new paradigm that employers must manage in today’s workforce to realize maximum performance from its employees and that is “age”.   For the first time ever in the history of our nation, we have four generations working side by side in our work force.   At Work, generational differences can affect everything, including recruiting, building teams, dealing with change, motivating, managing, and maintaining and increasing productivity.   [ (Hammill, 2005) ]

The Traditionalist, sixty-three years old or older, makes up 5-10% of the workforce. The Baby Boomers forty-four to sixty-two years old makes up 45-55% of our work force. Generation X, twenty-nine to Forty-three years old, makes up 35-45% of our work force. Last but not least, Millennials, seven to twenty-eight years old make up 5-10% of our work force.

My experience has been in the Armed Forces, specifically the United States Air Force where I spent more than twenty-three years before I retired.   In that time I had the opportunity to work with and supervise Airmen, Non-Commissioned Officers, Commissioned Officers and Department of Defense Civilians of all races, religions, ethnic backgrounds and cultures and there were some slight differences based on those factors but the greatest differences were in the generational gaps.
It was no surprise to me as s Senior Non-Commissioned Officer when I had to counsel and mentor a Second or First Lieutenant for the same unacceptable behavior or mental mistakes that I would counsel and mentor junior Non-Commissioned Officers for.   The reason being is that they...