I recently attended a workshop given by Purdue University, MEP, Managing Across Generations. Joseph McMurray gave an in depth look into the generation’s workforces are employing today. Apex Filling Systems sent a few of us from the team to gain the necessary insights that workforce supervisors need to maximize worker engagement, employment, satisfaction, leadership, and longevity. The idea behind such a workshop stems from the need to understand common characteristics of each generation, guidelines for working with different generations, and the how-to handle any situation that we may encounter. While not every person will necessarily fit in with the characteristics of their particular generation, understanding general traits and motivations associated, will go a long way to helping employers design a strategy. Today’s workplaces are not only culturally diverse, but also generationally diverse. This can create a challenge for a manager who works with a generationally mixed group of team members. Let’s define the generations that are within todays workforce.
Traditionalists (1900-1945), also known as the ‘Silent Generation’, make up about 2% of employees today. Then we have Baby Boomers (1946-1964), ‘Boomers’, make up approximately 25%. Next, Gen-X’ers (1965-1980), the ‘Middle Child’, make up 33%. Gen Y, or Millennials (1981-1996) ‘Trophy Kids’, making up 35%. Gen Z. (1997 to current), making up a small 5% of today’s workforce. (according to the Pew Research Center)
This cultural and beautiful mix of human-kind has certainly taught us that we need not be an in the box society. Look at the advancements in automation alone. We are living in a world that doesn’t even require one to leave their home. You can shop from your fingertips for absolutely anything you can fathom. As manufacturers rely more on technology, the human workforce will need to adapt to make the most of the new technology available to them. The McKinsey Report suggests that between 16 million and 54 million workers, or around a third of the US workforce, will need retraining for entirely new occupations.
Tactics to manage across the generations are pretty simple. First and foremost; recognize and embrace the differences. Break out of ‘routine’. Cross train! Employers should invest in retraining the staff they already have in order to create more jobs in the facility. Assign your older crew to mentor the newer generations. Attend seminars that provide platforms for integration. At the end of each day, it boils down to being human! Stay open, stay informed, stay communicative, spread kindness and positive reinforcements and the employees you manage will be more satisfied and effective no matter how old they are.