Vive la différence! As a Baby Boomer I realize how different I was from my parents and grandparents. More importantly, one really needs to understand what their children and grand children are challenged with in today’s world. Despite our huge socio-economic differences, we will all retire from our working lives someday and we need to ensure those days will be the most fulfilling, rewarding and satisfying ever.
It’s important to understand the differences between the various generations and how we can share our knowledge. Depending on the year we were born, experts have labelled us as either Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y or Z. The generation definitions have been defined by many. The following source was from a class on “Connecting across Generations”.
Silent Generation or Traditionalists (1927-1945)
Marriage is for life; labor union generation; Korean and Viet Nam War generation; in grade school, the gravest teacher complaints were about passing notes and chewing gum in class; readers; the Big-Band/Swing music generation; strong sense of trans-generational common values and near-absolute truths; disciplined, self-sacrificing, & cautious.
Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
The “me” generation; “rock and roll” music generation; ushered in the free love and societal “non-violent” protests which triggered violence; self-righteous & self-centered; buy it now and use credit; too busy for much neighbourly involvement yet strong desires to reset or change the common values for the good of all; the first TV generation; quite conversational & skilled vocal & writer advocates; poor on marital skills…the first divorce generation; optimistic, driven, team-oriented.
Gen X or the Busters (1965-1979)
Raised by the career and money conscious Boomers amidst the societal disappointment over governmental authority and the Viet Nam war and the scoff-law attitudes coming out of the protest times; school problems about drugs; late to marry (after cohabitation) and quick to divorce…many single parents; are iconographic…clothes labels are large & shows of caring (turning out for a worthy-cause rally) are fully sufficient expressions (while government, charities, agencies will see to the work of it); want what they want and want it now but struggling to buy; conversationally shallow because relating consists of shared time watching video movies; short on loyalty & wary of commitment; all values are relative…must tolerate all peoples; self-absorbed and suspicious of all organization; computer generation; survivors as individuals; cautious; skeptical, unimpressed with authority, self-reliant.
Gen Y or the Millennials (1980-2002)
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other instant communication technologies may explain Generation Y’s reputation for being peer oriented and for seeking instant gratification. Thrive in a multitask environment but yearn for personal relationships. Generation Y, like other generations, is shaped by the events, leaders, developments and trends of its time. Members of this generation are facing higher costs for higher education than previous generations.
Current Gen Z or the Digital Generation (2003+)
The Internet, technology, war, terrorism, the recession, and social media shape their lives. Gen Zs are tech savvy. Social media has connected them globally to their peers. The internet has connected them globally to knowledge. They are bright, and their IQ scores are higher than previous generations. They are flexible in nature and expect flexibility from institutions. They are accepting of diverse populations.
The Current Trend
Suffice it to say, changes in technology have made a huge impact on all of our lives, from Gen Z to Baby Boomers. Several changes for the better, thankfully. However, as more and more Baby Boomers retire from the workforce, they leave with knowledge and expertise that companies are finding extremely difficult to replace. That knowledge and expertise needs to be passed along to the next generation.
Finding a mentor in the workplace can be awkward. Generation X and Y individuals will typically migrate towards the baby boomers to seek out guidance but the technology gap alone can be daunting. You need willing volunteers that want to pass on their knowledge and many baby boomers are actually eager to please. Let’s face it, the learning opportunity from a baby boomer mentor far outweighs any of the awkwardness. Furthermore, baby boomers can learn so much from the younger generations. It needs to be a two way street. There are so many lessons to be learned and pitfalls to be avoided.