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How to March to Today’s Multigenerational Drum

How to March to Today’s Multigenerational Drum

If you ask your grandparents about life when they first stepped out on their own, you will get a very different picture than the experience of today’s youth. Changing technologies, economies, and expectations can also bring about differences in generational thinking. While looking at each generation as a whole lumps everyone together and removes the individual; it is helpful for those looking at the overall themes to better understand how we can relate to people from different eras. Sometimes, heated discussions and conflicts are brought about because of this lack of understanding of underlying currents that are absent in your own generation.

There are five generational groups that we will reference in this article.

  1. Traditionalists / Silent Generation (born 1925 – 1945)
  2. Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)
  3. Gen X (born 1965 – 1980)
  4. Gen Y / Millennials (Born 1981 – 2000)
  5. Gen Z / Boomlets (Born after 2001)

Each group, as a general rule, has different themes and outlooks on life. Lack of understanding can create conflict with younger generations in several key areas.

1) Financial Independence

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    Many Mellenniums may find themselves still living at home, or at least leveraging their parents for financial support, well into adulthood. According to the New York Times, one in five people in their twenties and early thirties are still living with their parents. This is a big difference between other generations. Most Baby Boomers and Traditionalists moved out much earlier – usually to get married. The inability to cut the apron strings today could be due, in part, to the fact that many entry-level jobs are often not able to cover basic living expenses; especially in some urban areas where the cost of living outpaces many starting salaries. In fact, a study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute found that entry-level hourly wages  for college graduates from 2000 -2013 fell on average at a rate of 8.1 percent among women, and 6.7 percent among men. Many people are also delaying marriage and staying in school longer due to conomic reasons.

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    Generation X and Baby Boomer parents may be tempted to compare their children’s lack of financial independence to when they were married, working, and on their own at a much earlier age. However, it is hard to correlate today’s job opportunities and financial freedoms to the ones they experienced when they were in their early twenties, due to the constantly changing workplace. Many older parents have a stronger work ethic. They have accumulated wealth over the years and are now able to financially support their children. Unfortunately, their kids are all too happy to take advantage of this.

    2) Work Ethic / Company Loyalty

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      Many older generations tend to label people in the Millennial group as less hard-working than they were in their early twenties. They do this because this younger generation is more inclined to push back against a typical “9 to 5” work day. Many Millennials value flexibility and embrace working in an environment that is more conducive to molding around their needs, rather than forcing them to conform to the needs of the organization.

      However, just because older generations were polishing their shoes and settling into their desks at 7:45 a.m. when they were in their 20s, does not mean that the Millennial workers don’t work just as many hours. Many people from older generations feel that if you aren’t in the office under supervision, then you aren’t working. Younger generations do not embrace this mindset. They are much more inclined to take their work home with them. So, while the Baby Boomer generation worked a typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday, the Millennial generations may work from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., then take the afternoon off before starting up again from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Millennial workers are much more likely to work remotely, and may feel less worried about making appearances at the office. To them, as long as the work gets done well, it doesn’t matter if they do it during regular business hours or after a relaxing dinner.

      People who are in their early twenties are also typically less trusting of corporations than their predecessors. Older generations wanted to be hired by a good company, slowly building a lifetime legacy there by paying their dues and climbing the corporate ladder. Many Traditionalist and Baby Boomers remark that in their twenties, they simply felt lucky to have a job and did not expect the organization to cater to their needs. Millennials, now in their early twenties, have watched companies perform downsizes; and have seen that their predecessors’ loyalty was often rewarded by corporate cuts for more profitable numbers on Wall Street. They may even have experienced this first hand by watching a parent lose their job with a company they assumed would provide them a good living. In turn, they are often much more comfortable with changing careers and companies, less loyal to their employers, more comfortable pushing back against authority figures, and more willing to leave if they aren’t happy in their current job. They may also build parallel careers, work multiple jobs simultaneously, and have more than one specialty.

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      3) Chief Motivators

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        Today’s youth are motivated by different factors than previous generations. Traditionalists were more motivated by security and self worth. Boomers were more motivated with money and status. Generation Xers wanted more time off and were motivated by a balanced work / life balance after watching their overworked parents. Generation Y seems to be motivated by doing work that is meaningful. They also enjoy work that allows them to express their individuality and maintain a personal life. Millennials are less impressed with the status quo, and instead want to feel a strong sense of passion for what they do with their lives. They also tend to be more globally focused than their predecessors due to growing up during a time when news and information are instantly shared with ease via the globally connected Internet.

        4) Education

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          A college degree, or even a graduate degree, is much more common in the Millennial Generation than in the past. According to findings from the Pew Research Center’s survey of 2,002 adults (supplemented by a Pew Research analysis of economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau), today’s Millennials are the best-educated generation in history. A third (34%) have a bachelor’s degree. When you compare the Traditional generation of 25-32 year-olds in 1965, only 13% had a college degree. This percentage expanded to 24% in the late 1970s and 1980s, when the Boomers were in their early 20s. This means that Millennials also have more competition from other highly-educated peers for jobs, and are more likely to delay launching their career until they have obtained a competitive degree.

          5) Communication Style

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            Millennials, and the upcoming Generation Z, are the technology gurus. While other generations remember the life before the Internet, the Generation Y kids obtained a working knowledge of technology very early in their lives. However, this can lead to them preferring e-mail, texting, instant messages, and Facebook exchanges over face-to-face communication. They are always plugged in. Most of them find it very hard to disconnect from their online world.

            6) Knowledge

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              Today’s youth have grown up with the ability to research anything with the click of their Google app. This means that instead of pouring over library books trying to find their answers, they are now easily found with a quick topic search. Millennials are able to further expand their hobbies and interests much easier than previous generations. For example, instead of pouring over library books or shadowing an expert, you can now find How-To videos and step-by-step instructional articles online within seconds. You can instantly learn how to make everything from home-made wine to how to up-cycle old pallets. Due to the ease of obtaining information about nearly everything online, Millennials are much more well-versed in many different hobbies and passions. They enjoy an eclectic variety of D.I.Y. projects, and are quick to try new things due to this ease of learning.

              7) Respect for Authority

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                Millennials are more comfortable with a fast-paced, changing world, and have no problem pushing back against authority or voicing concerns. Many older generations accuse them of not respecting authority. This is not exactly correct. Millennials have great respect for authority, but unlike previous generations, they don’t respect authority figures just because of their title. For Millennials, respect is not automatically given. It must be earned. For most Millennials, respect for their managers is the main reason they stay with their job. Coincidentally, the dissatisfaction of working for their manager is also the main reason that they quit. Many companies have adapted their approach to leadership when dealing with Mellennials. Management has evolved into a more relational role, rather than an authoritarian one, in order to lower their job turn-over rate.

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                Millennials are less worried about formal dress-code, and more interested in flexibility and new challenges. They would rather be traveling on new adventures than pressing their pinstripe suit. If they are put into the more traditional roles of their predecessors, they may become bored if the work does not continually push them into new areas of discovery.

                8) Family

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                  People from the Generation Y stage are also delaying marriage in favor of launching careers or furthering their education. Millennials are focused on making a good income before settling down with a family. The typical man now marries for the first time at age 28 and the typical women at age 26. This is about five years older than in 1970 (for both genders). Women are also delaying having children. In Western, Northern, and Southern Europe, first-time mothers are on average 26 to 29 years old, up from 23 to 25 years at the start of the 1970s.

                  Many Baby Boomers and Traditionalists feel that Generation X-ers and the Millennial Generation don’t want to grow up. Some of that may be true, but it stems from how the Boomers raised their children. Many Boomer parents tended to coddle their children more than past generations. Some Baby Boomers even use their own financial success to ensure their kids don’t experience adversity. Millennials, after watching their parents work so hard, are often not willing to suffer the long hours and general stress that they watched play out when they were growing up. Therefore, they tend to lean toward spending more time with their family in favor of less financial affluence. And, if Mom and Dad haven’t turned their old room into a theater room yet, Millennials see no reason why they shouldn’t hang out there at least a little bit more and delay the intimidating stresses of adulthood.

                  While generational gaps show us how very different it is to be in your mid-twenties today, these decades apart also illuminate how social, economic, and educational trends have changed over the years. Whether you’re a Millennialist, Traditionalist, Boomer, or a misunderstood Generation X-er, you still have more commonalities than differences.

                  Each generation can learn from their past. We can also pull older family and friends into current technologies and the fast-paced present. Understanding and celebrating these differences, and learning from one another, is the best way to leverage the strengths of each era and become better individuals.

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                  Sarah Hansen

                  A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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                  Last Updated on June 26, 2020

                  10 Things To Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

                  10 Things To Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

                  Problems and heartaches in life are inevitable. However, there are some things to remember when you’re right in the thick of it that can help you get through it. When everything seems to be going wrong, practice telling yourself these things.

                  1. This Too Shall Pass

                  Sometimes life’s rough patches feel like they’re going to last forever. Whether you’re dealing with work-related issues, family problems, or stressful situations, very few problems last for a lifetime. So remind yourself, that things won’t be this bad forever.

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                  2. Some Things are Going Right

                  When things are going wrong, it’s hard to recognize what is going right. It’s easy to screen out the good things and only focus on the bad things. Remind yourself that some things are going right. Purposely look for the positive, even if it is something very small.

                  3. I Have Some Control

                  One of the most most important things to remember is that you have some control of the situation. Even if you aren’t in complete control of the situation, one thing you can always control is your attitude and reaction. Focus on managing what is within your control.

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                  4. I Can Ask for Help

                  Asking for help can be hard sometimes. However, it’s one of the best ways to deal with tough situations. Tell people what you need specifically if they offer to help. Don’t be afraid to call on friends and family and ask them for help, whether you need financial assistance, emotional support, or practical help.

                  5. Much of This Won’t Matter in a Few Years

                  Most of the problems we worry about today won’t actually matter five years from now. Remind yourself that whatever is going wrong now is only a small percentage of your actual life. Even if you’re dealing with a major problem, like a loved one’s illness, remember that a lot of good things are likely to happen in the course of a year or two as well.

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                  6. I Can Handle This

                  A lack of confidence in handling tough times can add to stress. One of the best things to remember is that you can handle tough situations. Even though you might feel angry, hurt, disappointed, or sad, it won’t kill you. You can get through it.

                  7. Something Good Will Come Out of This

                  No matter how bad a situation is, it’s almost certain that something good will come out of it. At the very least, it’s likely that you will learn a life lesson. Perhaps you learn not to repeat the same mistake in the future or maybe you move on from a bad situation and find something better. Look for the one good thing that can result when bad things happen.

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                  8. I Can Accept What’s Out of my Control

                  There are many things that aren’t within your control. You can’t change the past, another person’s behavior, or a loved one’s health issues. Don’t waste time trying to force others to change or trying to make things be different if it isn’t within your control. Investing time and energy into trying to things you can’t will cause you to feel helpless and exhausted. Acceptance is one of the best way to establish resilience.

                  9. I Have Overcome Past Difficulties

                  One of the things to remember when you’re facing difficulties, is that you’ve handled problems in the past. Don’t overlook past difficulties that you’ve dealt with successfully. Remind yourself of all the past problems you’ve overcome and you’ll gain confidence in dealing with the current issues.

                  10. I Need to Take Care of Myself

                  When everything seems to be going wrong, take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, get some exercise, eat healthy, and spend some time doing leisure activities. When you’re taking better care of yourself you’ll be better equipped to deal with your problems.

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                  Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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