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I’m GenY. My Manager is GenX. My candidates are a mix of Z, Y, X and BabyBoomer. And do you know what? In my experience of working with colleagues, serving the needs of clients – and hiring candidates in all sectors, from all parts of the world – people don’t conform to a being a ‘letter’, just as people refuse to be treated as a number.
People are people. Everyone is unique – and I’m really not so sure that the ‘generational collision’ in the workplace is quite the conundrum that it’s being positioned to be.
I’m not alone in this view. An authoritative 2013 white paper from Penna was the first to challenge the newly received-wisdom that generational factors are such a big deal. Their research showed that Millennials are quite similar to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. When differences are seen they may not even be due to ‘generation’ but rather due to the natural dynamics of different life-stages (such as parenthood). And is the so-called GenZ (‘The Millennials’) really so different from their older brothers and sisters?
I’m not dismissing ‘Generation’ as a key differentiator when looking to attract, retain and develop talent. And, of course, people of a certain generation share a set of experiences such as music, technology and, sometimes, a colloquial vocabulary. But this shared experience doesn’t mean that what people want at work is radically different. In fact, the typical factors that influence Employee Engagement have been shown not to differ much across generational groups. Most people want growth and development opportunities, to have trust and confidence in their leaders – and to be valued for their contributions.
So why are these distinctions and divisions highlighted to such a degree? ‘Group Behaviour’ is a key part of the human psyche, because people want to simplify the complexities of human behaviour. So ‘generation’ has become an easy way to identify what people want by simply assigning to them the characteristics, desires, and preferences of a group to which they belong. But it’s misleading in an organisational context – and can lead to crude stereotyping or even active discrimination.
The more people (i.e. Candidates and Clients) I talk to, in EMEA and the US, the more I’m convinced that the key differences are on the deeply personal rather than generational level.
But I’m GenY – so maybe I would say that.
Resource Central is a unique people engagement and resourcing solutions service firm. Created from the focus and desire of its founders. We are all experts from the Job Board, HR Communications and Recruiting industry, bringing a wealth of expertise and knowledge of specialist and large corporate campaign hiring projects across the recruiting markets of Europe.
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