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Intergenerational alliance

Oct 16,2018 - Last updated at Oct 16,2018

We are living in a world where multiple generations are intertwined in the workforce. These workers can abide by a company culture, code of ethics and a united mission and vision, however undeniable differences exist due to generational gaps. William Strauss and Neil Howe categorised these generations into groups which share similar experiences and culture.

The current workforce comprises teams that vary in age up to 20-30 years and, therefore, comprise several generational cohorts. Each cohort responds and communicates differently. Not being able to capture the similarities and lack of understanding on how to overcome those differences can cause friction. 

Three of the most studied generations globally are Generation X (1965 to 1979), Y (1980 to 2000) and Z (2000 to present). In Jordan, 70.7 per cent of people are under the age of 30 and 20 per cent of people in Jordan are between the ages of 15-24, according to UNICEF. Therefore, Millennials and Generation Z’ers comprise the majority of the Jordanian population. According to a Labour Ministry’s report, the 2017 numbers show that younger people comprise a huge majority in the workforce, so it is of huge importance that the work environment and processes are in alignment with that. A lot of the friction caused in certain workplaces stems from processes and procedures designed for Generation X and asked to be implemented by Generation Z and Millennials.

Generation Z (post 2000) is the generation not privy to a pre-Internet era. This is the generation born into digitalisation and experiences the deep effects of globalisation and, as a result, is a very diverse generation interconnected through technology. Born into globalisation, this generation tends to be highly empathetic to others, especially considering that with the rise of the Internet, geographical distance is no longer an issue. This generation lacks physical and social ties and suffers from poor attention span/patience due to its use of quick and easy fixes as a result of technology. This generation values individuality. Culture and tradition might not be as preeminent within this generation. This is a generation big on innovation and design thinking and are, therefore, eager entrepreneurs. This is a good quality, considering the high unemployment rate. This generation grew up watching the rise of Daesh, the Arab Spring and the Yemeni civil war.

Generation Y (Millennials — 1980 to 2000), were born in the pre-Internet era but have experienced growing up as technology advanced and globalisation spread. Therefore, this generation appreciates the technology advances while appreciating the pre-Internet era. This generation grew up witnessing global financial depressions in international markets and several global wars, the wars in Iraq and Syria, as well as 9/11. Growing up in a globalising era, where you can more deeply comprehend the effects these issues have on people, tends to allow you to be empathetic and supportive to causes you believe in. With a rising unemployment rate and the competitive culture in the workplaces, this is the generation forced into entrepreneurship. This is the age group best able to understand and communicate with Generation X and Generation Z, due to living in a hybrid of both worlds. Growing up in the pre-Internet era and then evolving with digitalisation and the launch of Google, this generation has high problem solving skills.  

Generation X (1965 to 1979) is mostly conservative and traditional and values collectivism. This is the 9-5 traditional working hours type of generation. This generation is integrating into digitalisation but still appreciates and values the traditional pre-Internet era. This generation tends to be more patient, values relationships and the physical aspect of pre-technology. 

Work environments need to cater to the uprising of Millennials and Generation Z’s in their workforce while understanding and catering to the needs of Generation X’ers. The role of technology and big data must be capitalised on. 

Workplaces must conduct generational training with their employees, so they can better understand each other as well as the demographic they are trying to serve. 

Management styles also need to integrate more of a bottom-up approach rather than the traditional top-down approach. With the international curricula stressing more on public speaking, gender equality and social entrepreneurship, younger generations want their voices heard and want to be part of the change making process. 

A workforce with a wide range of experiences and expectations is the best incubator for excellent service and personal development, therefore, capitalising on it gives a sharp competitive edge.


The writer, an MBA holder from the University of Texas at Arlington, works in social development. She contributed this article to The Jordan Times

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