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Five generations on the workfloor: a nightmare or a blessing?

While older generations value hierarchy and loyalty to their employer, younger people shudder at the thought and yearn for a relaxed environment. When they feel dissatisfied with their employer, they simply look elsewhere: there are endless options and jobs for the taking in the Talent War!

The good news is that there is a way of bridging the generation gap. However, it is essential to understand the thought patterns, preferences and characteristics of each group first.

Which generation are you?

  • Silent generation (1928-1945)
  • Baby boomers (1946-1964)
  • Generation X (1965-1980)
  • Generation Y (Millennials) (1981-1996)
  • Generation Z (1997-2015)

Silent generation

The oldest generation, who grew up in the interwar period or the Second World War, today represents around 2% of the workforce. They were brought up by strict parents with high expectations, which made them focused, hard workers who value a well-defined hierarchy and a formal setting.

These traditionalists are loyal employees who are motivated by respect and can add long-term value to a company. As regards communication, they prefer the personal touch and good old pen and paper to technological alternatives.

Baby boomers

In the post-war period, which was characterised by an optimistic view of the future and economic growth, the birth rate rapidly increased and a new generation came of age. Baby boomers are known as hard-working team players who are dedicated to their work to achieve a successful lifestyle.

They are motivated by career performance and financial independence, which often makes finding a good work/life balance a challenge for them. Their digital skills are often lacking and they prefer face-to-face and telephone communication.

Generation X

Gen Xers are known for their entrepreneurial spirit and preference for productivity rather than long hours at work. They shake up traditional hierarchical structures and value a relaxed, flexible environment.

Their priorities are independence and personal development, which means focusing on their career is more important than loyalty to a single employer. If an employer fails to live up to their expectations, or if their work excessively impedes their personal life, they won’t hesitate to move on. Generation X also values efficiency in communication, which is why they prefer telephone conversations and personal meetings.

Generation Y (Millennials)

Millennials are the first generation to grow up in a world surrounded by digital technology. Because information became so accessible in the internet age, they are seen as better educated than their predecessors. They tend to prefer focused careers with growth opportunities where the ability to think outside the box is an advantage.

Just as Generation X, millennials are motivated by personal development and aren’t afraid to change employer if they are dissatisfied. One way of retaining them is to offer skills training courses and frequent feedback sessions. Because they are a technically proficient generation, they prefer to communicate using instant messaging and e-mails.

Generation Z

While the youngest group is just starting to enter the labour market, they are already bringing new ideas and demands. They value authenticity, diversity, individuality and prefer a fast-moving environment. 

As the first digital natives, they are not afraid of the latest technological innovations and are just as comfortable with hybrid or fully remote working. As well as instant messaging and SMSing, Generation Z also understands the power of social media as a way to contact others.

Spiegelapp: the bridge between generations

Co-ordinating and fulfilling the expectations of five different generations in the workplace is no easy task. How can you create a harmonious environment that satisfies those who prefer hierarchical systems as well as those who value a relaxed working culture? How can you balance the needs of employees motivated by financial success and those who care more about personal development? How can you combine traditional means of communication with instant messaging and social media? The answer is an efficient, generation-gap-friendly feedback culture.

The Spiegelapp is an innovative, digital reflection system that brings generations together. Our interactive learning environment fulfils the needs of both older and younger age groups. It is efficient, user friendly and really fun to use!

Request different feedback from different age groups

Employees have the freedom to decide which competences they wish to have evaluated and by whom. They can do so at any moment. This gives them continuous feedback from their manager, colleagues of various ages and other stakeholders. They can see a clear summary of all the feedback they have received. The results give them new insights that can greatly benefit their personal and professional growth.

With the Spiegelapp, you can request feedback at individual, team and project level and receive learning tips. The app also fulfils the wish of younger generations to receive regular direct feedback.

Every generation has its own talents and qualities: working together = learning together

The Spiegelapp brings different generations together and helps them talk to one another. Older generations want to use their life experience and ability to put things in perspective, which makes them most suitable for the role of coach. At the same time, younger people appreciate receiving feedback and having a coach at their side to accelerate their learning process. The Spiegelapp promotes communication between generations with different styles and preferences, which makes collaboration and knowledge transfer easier. This helps the organisation thrive and makes age diversity a blessing.

Curious about the Spiegelapp?

For more information about improving your feedback culture, please contact Krista Beilschmidt. Krista is an HR adviser and managing partner at Hauptmeijer en Clotscher and the director of Spiegelapp.

Call: +31 70 346 92 05 or +31 6 41 27 30 20

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