By Angela Carter, Register Staff
NEW HAVEN - While it is not unusual for age to be a component of workplace diversity, the U.S. labor force - for the first time in history - is adapting to four generations rolling up their sleeves side by side.
Depending on how the managers of an organization demonstrate leadership, this multi-generational blend can yield a dynamic, productive mix of ideas or wreak havoc on a company's culture.
"It's important to recognize what shaped the generations, so we understand what they're thinking and understand their attitudes," said Howard Reitman, vice president of Reitman Personnel, a staffing firm in Branford that recruits for temporary and permanent positions.
Reitman and Anthony Avallone, managing partner at Reitman Personnel, gave a presentation Thursday on "Motivating and Retaining a Multi-Generational Workforce," at a breakfast meeting of the New Haven Manufacturers Association held at The Graduate Club.
In today’s labor force, it is becoming common to see the so-called Traditionalists, born roughly between 1920 and 1945, teamed up with baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1960, and members of Generation X, born between 1961 and 1980, and members of Generation Y, born from 1981 to 2002.
Kenneth Dugan, owner of Prestige Tool Manufacturing LLC in Milford, said the trend is visible in his staff of full- and part-time time workers, who range in age from 19 to 60.
Whether motivated by economic need or a desire to maintain mental sharpness, Traditionalists and baby boomers are working later in life. According to definitions provided Reitman Personnel, Traditionalists are known for being dedicated, hard-working and loyal. Baby boomers have a reputation for being team players and competitive.
According to Reitman Personnel, Generation Xers have a tendency to chase a lifestyle that balances work and family, they want to be self-reliant and can be skeptical of authority.
Generation Y, called the “Internet generation” is considered fast-paced, fun-seeking and technologically savvy.
They are all influenced by events in their lifetime. For example, lessons of the Great Depression made ardent savers of the Traditionalists. And while Generation Y may be able to master technology with greater ease, some may struggle with verbal skills, Avallone said.
“Feelings and emotions in the workplace can be generation-specific,” Avallone said.
Reitman said it is important for a company’s management team to focus on goals and communicate what staff members contribute toward those goals, especially as new employees come on board.
“We’re going to see more boomers working into their 70s,” Reitman said. “Hiring new employees into a team that isn’t together is a disaster. Be clear about what you’re trying to accomplish with a new hire or you’re going to have a bumpy road.”
Sometimes perceptions clash among the age groups. Traditionalists and baby boomers tend to have longer stints with a single employer and when making hiring decisions, are leery of candidates with “hopping patterns” on their resume — moving from job to job within short periods of time.
In contrast, a member of Generation Y is likely to have 15 jobs in his or her lifetime, Avallone said.
But companies will have to integrate younger workers and workers with varying mindsets into the pipeline to survive, he said. “If we all focus on a common goal and share the same common goal, it’s less important who’s taking us through the process,” Avallone said.
Angela Carter can be reached at 789-5752 or firstname.lastname@example.org.NEW HAVEN - While it is not unusual for age to be a component of workplace diversity, the U.S. labor force - for the first time in history - is adapting to four generations rolling up their sleeves side by side.
Angela Carter can be reached at 789-5752 or email@example.com.
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