Why do some of your co-workers prefer phone calls while others avoid them like the plague? Why are some confident and more likely to respect authority, while others are highly independent and hate working in teams?
Understanding the different generations and why each works, thinks and communicates the way it does can help improve team dynamics, work processes, productivity, communication efforts and everyone’s happiness levels.
Employee personas — or fictional representations that show the needs and behaviors of specific employee groups — can help uncover generational differences in the workplace and provide insights about what different employees need from your company. Plus, the research will help identify the types of people and traits that make your company a success.
What are the different generations?
Five generations make up today’s U.S. workforce, with Baby Boomers on their way to retirement and Generation Z just starting their careers:
- Baby Boomer, born 1946 to 1964
- Generation X, born 1965 to 1977
- Xennial, born 1977 to 1983
- Millennial, born 1983 to 1996
- Generation Z, born 1997 to 2012
Each generation was shaped by different cultural events that formed their attitudes, beliefs and perceptions about the world and how they work. For instance, Baby Boomers were the first generation to demand a youth culture and to question their parents. Many kept this mentality throughout their lives and ask tough questions that might rattle or offend younger generations who aren’t accustomed to being doubted.
Millennials tend to ask for defined processes and paths because they grew up with much more structure and routine than Generation X — the first generation who came home to empty houses because both parents worked, and there were few daycare options.
Tailor conversations for each generation
As your team creates the new norm after the pandemic changed the way we all work, creating employee personas can help you tailor conversations and policies based on generational differences. Teach others about your own preferences and be willing to listen and learn about how they want to work and interact with others.