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Generational Differences in the Workplace

We are all aware of how social networking and technology have become the “normal” way for many people to communicate. At the same time, as Generation Y gradually enters the workforce, there has been large concern over the proper usage of technology and social networking sites during work hours. This generation has grown up with MP3 players and making plans for a Friday night through Myspace. It is not uncommon to find Gen Y workers updating their status on Facebook during work hours, as it is deemed as something completely normal in their view.

I came across an article* online on Frontline about a study LexisNexis recently did on a small sample group about whether there is a technology gap between different generations in the workplace. Here are some of the statistics I found interesting to share with you:

    *67% of Boomers think using a laptop or PDA (e.g. Blackberry) during in-person meetings is impolite, versus 57% of Gen Yers. 68% of Baby Boomer workers find it distracting, while only 49% of Generation Y workers do. And 32% of Gen Yers think it’s essential, compared with 11% of Boomers.

    *71% of Baby Boomers believe social networking sites inappropriately blur the lines between personal and professional life. 65% of Generation Yers think so.

    *47% of Generation Y workers think PDAs and mobile phones contribute to the decline of proper workplace etiquette, compared with 69% of Baby Boomer workers.

    Students must be made aware of the proper usage of technology and social networking sites at work. It should be stressed that they need to speak with their managers on what is deemed as appropriate usage, if at all. Many companies simply block these sites, but as more companies are marketing through social networking sites themselves, this has become a larger issue for companies to control.

    GS Consultants recently offered an interesting workshop on this topic: Type Challenges Across Generations — Baby Boomers/Gen X/Millennials. MBTI® type preferences were used to uncover how the different generations approach issues in life such as workplace values, retention, the economy and much more. Two recommended products that CPP offers to help you learn more about type are Introduction to Type® and Introduction to Type® and Communication. Knowing about how different generations view such issues is crucial in helping your students to be aware of what to expect amongst diverse organizations.

    *Source: Tech etiquette gap between Gen Y and Boomers at work? http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/blog/2009/04/tech-etiquette-gap-between-gen-y-and-boomers-at-work.html

    One Comment

    1. Thanks for the posting – generational differences are really top of mind these days and I read everything I can find on it. The GS Consultants workshop sounds excellent! I would love to attend that.

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