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For the first time in our nation’s history, four generations are working side-by-side.
“It’s by necessity,” says Melanie Stillinger (pictured), vice president of HLP Solutions. “We see people working even after they’ve earned retirement. They’ve retired from one job and have started a second career.”
At the same time, those born from 1965 through 1990, popularly known as Generation X and Generation Y, firmly have established themselves in the job market.
Local human-resources professionals say employees from each generation have different values and, therefore, require drastically different managerial styles.
Oklahoma City Human Resources Society President-elect Michelle Pollock says, in general, workers from older generations can be counted on for loyalty, commitment and work ethic.
They respect authority and believe the company they work for will take care of them.
Fairness is highly valued.
“I definitely notice that they take their job very seriously. If you tell them their schedule is 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., they show up at 6:55 a.m.,” Pollock says. “They will perform for you. They will be here on time, and they’re very good at communicating and planning.”
The younger the employee, the bigger the swing in values.
“It’s more about what can you do for me than what can I do for you,” Stillinger says.
According to an Associated Press poll released in July, nearly half of those born between 1946 and 1964 now work for a younger boss, and most reported they are older than most of their colleagues.
The first wave of post-World War II baby boomers turn 65 this year at an anticipated rate of 10,000 per day. According to a Congressional Budget Office report released earlier this year, growth in the labor force is expected to be slowed by the fact that older workers are retiring later in life than previous generations.
The other end of the labor spectrum contains workers from their 20s to 50s. They’ve been raised differently with different expectations about employers.
“They are not impressed by authority. They love to deliver results, and they don’t like to be micromanaged,” Pollock says. “And Generation Y is so technological and IT-savvy, and that has a huge impact when they look at a company. The first thing they will do is go to the website, and if it’s not up to par compared to your competitors, you have lost them. ” Stillinger says larger companies value so many different skill sets that it often means different generations will be together.
Chesapeake Energy is known for its vibrant, young culture, she says. At the same time, the company is always looking for experienced production and field applicants.
“A lot of times, those jobs take many years of experience,” she says.
HR professionals agree that, in general, different generations lend themselves to different industries.
think you notice it varies by occupation,” Pollock says. “Does it make a
difference of the generation if you’re looking for an accountant? Does
it make a difference if you’re looking for a website designer? Does it
make a difference if you’re looking for a customer-service rep? Those
kinds of things can have an impact on who you hire.”
Photo by Mark Hancock