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Time to retire generational stereotypes in the workforce? ‘more similarities than differences’

by on November 4, 2014

We regularly write blog posts calling out the use of generational stereotypes and have queried whether the tide has at last turned with more individuals and organizations questioning how meaningful is the concept of ‘generation’. Last month, we highlighted a refreshing call by Stephen R Fussell for more HR programmes that focus on business continuity and employee maturation through exposure to colleagues of all ages (rather than gimmicky interventions to keep workforce generations ‘happy’).

So I’m delighted to see this piece in the Financial Post, a Canadian news website,about a multi-generational construction company in Calgary. The item is headed ‘The entitled Millennial? The Boomer who won’t retire? Is it time to toss the clichés?‘ which itself is an encouraging start. One representative, Ms Masear, is quoted as saying that she she saw ‘more similarities than differences between the oldest and youngest employees’ even if they ‘present a little differently’. She doesn’t attribute these differences to any moral deficiency on the part of any given cohort. She describes what they share as being more important, namely, the desire to build a meaningful career and being willing to work hard to achieve that.

The article then goes on to feature an extended exchange with Lisa Taylor, president of Toronto-based consulting firm Challenge Factory who is described as an expert on demographic challenges in the workplace. Amongst the things she says:

  • Tired stereotypes of entitled Millennials, slacker Generation Xers, and stick-in-the-mud Baby Boomers are false and damaging in the business environment;
  • These stereotypes have  been promoted by the the media and training programs in ways which position different generations as being incredibly unique and very distinct and necessarily at odds when this isn’t borne out by the evidence.

She concludes by saying that the real challenge is dealing with the fact that we can do work any time, anywhere, and that organizations need to accommodate these expectations. This might require a revolution but it isn’t generation-specific.

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