In 2020, we have a collision of generations in the workplace like we’ve never seen before. Members of Gen X are in their late 40s and early 50s and are settling into the final act of their career. Millennials (Gen Y) are in their late-20s to mid-30s and make-up a large percentage of the middle management population in corporate America. And members of Gen Z are graduating from college and entering the workforce.
There are also some Baby Boomers that are getting close to retirement...who will be working side-by-side with co-workers that are younger than some of their grandchildren!
In other words, the average corporate office will have a collision of generations that is as age-diversified as we’ve ever seen in the workplace.
What are the key factors that define predominant characteristics of members of any generation? While there are countless answers for that question, most agree it boils down to three things; technology, parenting and economics.
Here is a quick overview of the four most populous generations alive today:
Baby Boomers - Born between 1946 and 1964, Boomers make up nearly 30% of the U.S. population. Events like the Vietnam War, Beatlemania and Woodstock paint this group as forever young, liberal and actively pushing for social change. However, a large segment of this group also came-of-age during the Reagan years and will retire as highly conservative and have a narrow view of subsequent generations.
GenX - Born between 1965 and 1976, GenXers have the distinction of being a small, transitional generation shaped by dual-income households, a terrible job market in their 20s, massive changes in technology and a better record on civil rights than any generation before them.
GenY (Millennials) - Born between 1977 and 1995, Millennials are the product of helicopter parents, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Great Recession, massive changes in the workplace and a dislike for being told they need to do things how they’ve always been done. This marriage of skepticism, ingenuity and boldness is shaping the modern office environment.
GenZ (iGen) - The first members of this generation were born in 1996 and have never known a world where they couldn’t get any answer to any question in a matter of seconds via the internet. While social scientists are just starting to publish meaningful data about this generation, having raised two Z’ers, I can tell you they; are highly skeptical and seek to verify before believing anything, experience the world as a much smaller place because of the internet and are significantly more accepting of people that look different and have different belief systems than any generation before them.
The collision of these generations in the workplace along with the transition of leadership from Boomers and GenXers to Millennials will have a dramatic impact on the companies that employee them.
Millennials and GenZers value their free time over extra pay. Which means, companies are going to have to offer more flexibility in their working environments than ever before. As flex-time and work-from-home opportunities increase to levels we couldn’t have imagined 10 years ago, we will see a sharp rise in the demand for collaborative working skills as well as many new skills that were not needed just a few years ago.
Below are 10 key changes we will see in the workplace in 2020 due to the collision of generational priorities:
DM me - More than 25% of the workforce will work remotely at least 50% of the time.
PM me - Usage of online project management and task management tools will rise sharply.
Time is money - Employee compensation packages will change the way they govern paid time off or PTO. Having only two weeks PTO will not be acceptable to job candidates and employers will lose quality people if they don’t change.
Coffee for everyone - With a growing remote workforce, many companies will scale down their brick & mortar footprint and will allow employees to meet in shared workspaces like WeWork offices.
Need a Lyft - With employees working remotely, automobile ownership will drop in favor of ride sharing services.
Art of living - Remote work forces will allow college students to begin their career before they graduate. They will get up, log-in and work and go to school from wherever they’d like.
Call Bob, he knows - Remote work forces will also allow Baby Boomer and GenXers to extend their career. If they don’t have to report to the office, but can still fulfill a role, employees that may have retired will continue to work much longer than they would have.
No Dogmas allowed - Workers that can’t or won’t accept generational differences will be weeded out of the workplace. Personnel decisions based on race, religion, gender or sexual orientation will begin to disappear and simply won’t be tolerated.
Performance matters - Career advancement will be centered around measurable contributions vs. personalities more than ever before.
Next - At the same time, deep connections with employers and co-workers will continue to diminish as relationships become more transactional.
The workplace interactions and group dynamics resulting from colliding generations will have deep and permanent ramifications in corporate America. Less tolerant individuals will find themselves on the outside looking in, while progressive, big-picture employees will be rewarded.
Below are 10 skills that will benefit you in the workplace in 2020:
Excellent written and verbal communication skills
Professional project management skills
Collaborative team management skills
Advanced web-based computing skills
Remote personnel management skills
Big picture (Sales, Marketing, Operations) comprehension
Integrity, honesty, respect
Big-data analytics capabilities
Excellent time management skills
Broad knowledge of sociology, psychology, technology, economics and popular culture