Have we ever thought about generation gaps within the workplace? I am 41 years old, and I manage HR for a company with employees in the age group of 22-27, 28-40, and 41-55. Many of you would have team members or supervisors from one of these age groups. I can guarantee you that the older person is forever complaining that the younger team member is impatient and careless while the younger one would feels that the senior one is stern and dull. Is it not??
The older one prefers to come at 9;30am sharp and stay till 8;30 or 9 pm to slog it out, but the younger person feels that “I can manage all of this from home, as long as I deliver”, why do I need to put in the long hours? The older person wants to stay in the company for at least 2-3 years, but a younger person gets bored in the first six months of the new job and is already looking for something new.
Why is this happening? Do you know that our policies get stuck as we cater to different generations, even in HR? It’s tough as even with office timings, the older boss would want 9 to 10 hours clocked in while the younger boss doesn’t mind flexibility if the output is delivered. Even something as simple as the attendance policy gets stuck. Hence, it’s challenging to keep all employees happy.
Let’s talk about my father and the folks of his generation. They had fewer job opportunities in the market. Since the options were shallow and there weren’t enough jobs available, they were forced to love one company and stuck with one organization trying to save money for 20-30 years. Saving was everything to them, and so was loyalty. They could not afford to be disloyal as there weren’t enough companies to hire them. This was the ‘Scarcity’ phase.
Today we have tons of opportunities in the market. We know that if we leave this job, we will get another interview in days and grab a job in a week, max a month. I am a parent, and I try to give my son everything and anything that he desires. Today’s abundance of opportunities and children getting what they want from us is called the ‘Abundance’ phase. The younger generation does not know the concept of saving. Someone like me would save first and spend later. Upon receiving a salary, today’s generation will immediately click on the link for a new mobile phone or that new dress that they see on amazon and click on the ‘buy’ option without thinking twice. Is it their fault? No. They don’t know any better. They don’t understand what we have seen in our parents, as they were born in an era of opportunities and abundance.
When I ask my son, “Where does dad get cash from”? His straight answer is the ATM and not the bank branch because he has never seen a bank branch. He has only seen an ATM. Our parents used to go to restaurants to eat and would get the leftover food packed and bring it home for consumption later because they believed in saving and not wasting. Today’s generation may not feel the need to bring anything back home packed. “Pet bhar gaya, rahne dete hain, aur nahin khana”. Impatience has also grown due to mobile phones. We send a message and expect a message instantly, which is why our Hindi movies were 3 hours long in the 90s and 1 hour long today. Netflix has begun multiple programs that are 10 min or 11 min long lately. Is that the future of movies? 5 min long stories on Netflix? WOW! Talk about impatience.
I remember getting 1 award at the end of the year in school, and I would jump over the moon with happiness. Today, my son comes with a star from school every day, even for a simple word spelt correctly written.
Now, let’s understand what does this tell us about our organization? 90% of our organization falls in the 22-27 age group category. Our young guns need daily appreciation and pats on the back to keep them going. They do not want to wait for one year to know that their performance was good in April. They want to know that every day. If that is what it takes to keep them going, then our responsibility as supervisors is to understand what keeps them going and get it done.
I’d like to advise team leaders to do team briefings twice a day, appreciate people and pat them on their backs in each of these briefings. They like public appreciation. It will bring the energy levels up. What do our young guns like? They like games. They like socializing. Today I would like to be alone with my family on my birthday, but a 22-year-old would like to get high and party all night with 30 of his best friends. But then again, if he is in my team, I need to understand that. Just some advice from my side, “Know your younger team members better.” Spend time with them, and understand their jokes. Learn how they think, Gamify Everything!”. Create enjoyment in everything.
Finally, young guns also need to understand people like us. We like being alone. Give us what we want via work, and all you must do is show passion and intent to deliver what you want. It takes hard work to maintain a relationship, and let’s work together to make any organization the best-managed place on earth.
With 82% of professionals in India considering a job change in 2022 (The Economic Times, 2022), this is the best time to upskill with a Leadership course from Emeritus and steer your career growth to new heights.
~ HR Expert