New challenge for managers: handling workers belonging to different generations-A A +A
By Mia A. Aznar
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
AS IF the changing times are not enough, office managers also have to contend with different generations all in one workplace.
One such manager is John Philip Orbeta, managing director and head of the corporate resources group of Ayala Corp. At the Mandaue Business Summit, Orbeta spoke on managing multi-generations.
But before tackling the differences among generations, Orbeta pointed out that the nature of work is also changing, with more non-routine tasks and an increasing mobile workforce–35 percent of it worldwide.
Beyond netbooks, Orbeta said a lot of work is done using tablets and smartphones. A study by IDC predicts 700 smartphones will be in circulation around the world by 2014 and Orbeta said a lot more work will be done over phones as technology improves.
As an example, he said flavored fries giant Potato Corner has no warehouse. Outlets merely send text messages or make calls to order more ingredients and deliveries are made to them.
“We have to understand what is happening in the workplace. We can’t rely on the static performance appraisal forms anymore,” he told participants.
Offices, he said, will also have to be able to manage generation gaps in the workplace.
In 2010, some eight percent of those born before 1946 were still working while the majority of the workforce at 44 percent consisted of baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964. Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1978, comprise 34 percent and Generation Y, born between 1979 and 1993, are at 14 percent. The next generation are yet to start working.
However, by 2020, the next generation will have made up seven percent while Generation Y will dominate at 50 percent.
The different generations have different outlooks on work and understanding each generation is key to creating competitive advantages.
The oldest generation values hard work, respect authority, sacrifice, are resistant to change, prioritize duty before fun, consider work an obligation, want direct command and control and want formal written memos. They are also loyal to the organization.
Baby boomers, on the other hand, are workaholics and consider work an adventure. They are used to written but informal memos and also believe in loyalty to an organization.
They also live to work.
This is where Generation X differs. In Orbeta’s presentation, he said Generation Xers are loyal to the managers they work for, not to the organization.
They value self-reliance, are skeptical and want to ask why. They also want structure and direction and see contracts as an obligation. Rather than written memos, they prefer immediate and direct feedback and they work so they can live.
Millennials, however, are even more different. Orbeta said they are multi-taskers and are known for their tenacity. They are goal-oriented and think of work as a means to an end. They communicate on social media, short messaging service or email and prioritize their personal lives over work. Their loyalty is limited to the team they belong to.
The Visa Millennial Survey showed that the new generation values the simple things in life like family and friends while the National Youth Commission 2010 Survey showed that Millennials want to be able to provide for their own families.
Orbeta said human resource managers will need to understand generational differences and be flexible i order to survive.
He said there is no corporate ladder, but rather, a corporate lattice with multi-directional career paths available.
He recommends that managers initiate communication and offer multiple channels for this by convening an informal group setting for the younger generations. He also said they need to rethink training and leadership development and collaborate with the young and creative to get them to participate.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 22, 2013.