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Gustin Partners | March 17, 2016 |

Understanding the Multi-Generational Workspace

By Thornton May
Futurist, Senior Advisor with GP, Executive Director & Dean - IT Leadership Academy

There are six generations floating about the global workforce today:

Generation Z; The Founders
Born: 1998 to 2016 [Age 0 to 18] 1% of U.S. Workforce

Millennials; Generation Y
Born: 1981 to 1997 [Age 19 to 35] 34% of U.S. Workforce; 53.5 million workers

Generation X
Born: 1965 to 1980 [Age 36 to 51] 34% of U.S. Workforce; 52.7 million workers

Baby Boomers
Born: 1946 to 1964 [Age 52 to 70] 29% of U.S. Workforce; 44.6 million workers

Silent Generation
Born: 1928 to 1945 [Age 71 to 88] 2% of U.S. Workforce; 3.7 million workers

Greatest Generation
Born:  Before 1928 [Age 89+]

In 2015 Millennials passed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce, according to Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. By 2025 Millennials are forecast to comprise three-quarters of working age Americans.

The economic future will be determined by how well – or how poorly - these three generations – Boomers, Xers and Millennials collaborate.

Understanding Millennials
To understand a generation, sociologists tell us we have to understand what shaped them. Millennials can, for the most part, be said to have been shaped by the social internet. They grew up being able to use the internet to get things done themselves. As such, Millennials are frequently described as being self-directed.

Interviews with Millennials in the work place reveal that what surprises them most; the thing which causes them to scratch their heads and ask, “why do you do things this way?” is the Boomer tendency to silo information and adhere to bureaucratic decision rights.

Millennials want to work for start-ups – not primarily for the potential promise of Unicorn billions in the private equity market – but because in start-ups information flows freely. Everyone knows everything. Transparency is an embedded part of the start-up culture.

Organizations with a culture of information sharing have little or no problems with Millennials. Organizations seeking to control information access based on arbitrary bureaucratic levels and titles will have trouble retaining Millennial workers.

Research conducted at the CIO Solutions Gallery, the Olin Innovation Lab, and the IT Value Studio indicates that 75% - SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT – of the Global 2000 persist in engaging in information management practices toxic to Millennials!

This has to change.


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