Essay on Cultural Differences in the Workplace and Generation Gaps

Published: 2021-08-02
1841 words
7 pages
16 min to read
University of Richmond
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Four generations exist in the workplace today. The four generations are the Silent generation (1925-1945), the Baby Boomers (1946-1964), the Millennials (1977-1990), and generation Z (1991 to the present). The different generations have different cultures at the workplace and work ethics. In the recent past, generational differences in the workplace is an area that has been extensively studied as it may present managerial difficulties which will impact on performance. The paper will discuss the differences in workplace culture or workplace ethics between the Millennials and generation Z and the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers.

Different generations show the difference in work ethic. Baby Boomers and the Silent generation are hardworking and very motivated. They trust their employers more and do not move from company to company. Success and prestige are more important to them. The Millennials and generation Z on the other hand look for fun and meaningful work. They are extremely skeptical and expect change. They do well with challenges, creative input, diversity, and creative input. If they are not pleased with a particular job, they will change jobs.

Work centrality differs among generations. In the workforce, there is a reducing trend of work centrality with the younger generations having a preference for leisure. Narcissism is also high with generation Z and Millennials. Work centrality is heavily determined by an individuals work values. The fluctuations in work centrality impacts on the behaviors and attitudes of the employees. An employee with a high work centrality tends to perform better and show more commitment than an employee with a low work centrality. For a team to grow and achieve excellently, high work centrality is essential. With the Millennials and generation Z however, work centrality is declining. The Silent generation and the Boomers show a high work centrality. Despite the harmful effects of a decline in work centrality, perhaps the Millennials and generation Z will usher in the much-needed balance between work and life (Fenzel, 2013).

The two generations differ in their communication culture. Whereas the Millennials and generation Z prefer to communicate via the more recent methods of communication such as email and text message, those of the Silent generation and the Baby Boomers generation prefer traditional modes of communication such as phone calls. The difference in the preference as far as communication is concerned is a cause for quite some friction at the workplace. Older bosses think that spending so much time on ones phone is a waste of time. They are not aware that one can communicate with clients via text messages and generate ideas from Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter (Piazza, 2016). The older folks think that opting not to pick a call is rude, while the younger people believe other communication means such as Gchat for instance, is equally efficient. In most cases, the old folks rebel against the more recent communication methods. Most of them believe that making phone calls is the more efficient method of communicating, due to the personal touch associated with it.

The different generations have different attitudes toward work. Generation Z, for example, has been branded the slacker generation, and the managers grunt that the younger people are not as committed as their older counterparts in their jobs. Baby Boomers, are regarded as workaholics and are said to have started this trend whereas the Silent generation is described as the most diligent generation. There is a widespread stereotype that older workers are more industrious than younger workers. In most occasions, Baby Boomers are described as being more process oriented, while the Millennials and generation Z as being more concerned with the results irrespective of the time and place the task is carried out. Whereas younger employees dwell on increased performance, the flexibility of finishing a duty assigned within their proficiency may make them happier, provided they get the job done appropriately within the stipulated time frame (Tolbize, 2008).

Millennials and generation Z are portrayed as less loyal towards their employers than the Silent generation and Baby Boomers. Most people in generation Z think that job-hopping is a valid way of advancing ones career. Most of the Silent generation and Boomers are willing to stay in a particular organization for their entire working life compared to Millennials and generation Z who reported the higher probability of leaving their job if they found a significant amount of money. The younger generation presumably learned that being loyal to ones employer does not guarantee job security after being witnesses to their parents experience in losing jobs despite their loyalty. Loyalty towards an employer has been shown to decrease, with the youngest generation being least loyal.

The generations portray difference in attitudes regarding respect and authority. Younger workers allege that they are not respected in the workplace as the managers ignore their ideas merely because they are superior. The older generations also present the same complain, only that they say the attitudes of the younger generation is not respectful towards the management. The Silent generation values authority more than the other generations and prefers hierarchical organizational structures. Those of Generation Z and Millennials are comfortable with those in power and title neither fascinates nor intimidates them. They find interacting with their superiors natural and ask questions, unlike the older generations. To them, questioning is not a sign of disrespect. Generation Z, in particular, believes that respect ought to be earned and do not think there should be particular respect. The younger generations do not favor the need to exert authority. The older generations expect their views to be regarded as more critical just for the reason that they are more experienced whereas the younger generations believe that they also deserve to be heard and be given attention.

The preference of training styles and needs differ among generations. Most of Millennials and generation Z would instead learn both hard skills and soft skills while on the job, whereas most of those of the Silent generation and Boomers would instead learn hard skills via classroom instruction and soft skills on the job. Older generations regard group discussions as an excellent method for determining soft skills. The younger generations believe that assessment, peer interaction, and feedback as a unique method to learn soft skills. On the other hand, the older generations are more sensitive to feedback. The preferred way for learning hard skills for the silent generation and the boomers is in the classroom whereas for the Millennials and generation Z the method of choice for determining hard skills is on to learn them on the job. Members of the Silent generation and Boomers would prefer mostly training of skills in their areas of expertise, and despite Millennials and those of generation Z also wanting such training, training in leadership is preferred by most (Tolbize, 2008). Finally, team building is a field in which the silent generation and Boomers would like to be trained in while problem-solving is a field in which generation Z would like to be trained.

The younger generations are often attributed to their passion for a balance between life and work, unlike the older generations. The passion comes from them bearing witness to the loss of jobs by their parents despite them making sacrifices for their careers. Therefore, learned to value the balance between life and work as they grew up. They spent a lot of time when young in daycare and aftercare because their parents had to work. Most of the younger generation work hard but do not let this interfere with their lives. The older generations, on the other hand, sacrificed personal lives for work (Tolbize, 2008).

The attitudes towards supervision differ among generations. Workers appear to vary in their appreciation of control and need for feedback. For example, micromanagement is disliked by the young folks, but they want leadership with precise instructions. The Millennials and generation Z wish to display their creativity and accomplish their different tasks using methods they deem most fit. For Boomers and the Silent generation working in the public sector, Boomers are more pleased with being free from supervision significantly more compared to the younger generations. Different generations of employees also differ in the level to which they require feedback. Whereas the generation Z and Millennial workers want regular feedback, the older workers may feel insulted by the same (Tolbize, 2008).

The different generations differ in their opinions of what contributes to success at work and their choice of good leadership attributes. The Silent generation thinks that to be successful in the workplace; they ought to beat deadlines, while the younger generations believe that success is dependent on the use of computers (Tolbize, 2008). Whereas the Silent Generation, Boomers, and Millennials prefer a leader who is credible, is trusted and is farsighted, generation Z prefer a leader who listens well, is dependable and dedicated.

Narcissism is also something that has a difference as far as generations are concerned in the workplace. The younger generations comprising of the Millennials and generation Z have been described as absorbed, overconfident and entitled implying they show high levels of narcissism in their workplaces. This generational rise in narcissism reveals the many cultural trends that promote individualism. Parenting and societal conditioning are to blame for the narcissism in the Generation Z and Millennials. According to social learning, parents giving their children special treatment and overindulging them have caused children to value themselves separately from real attainments. Narcissism could also be a result of the emphasis on self-esteem in schools, too much focus on celebrity, the advent of social media giving a person to share favorite pictures, achievements freely, and other self-praising content, a change in parenting from valuing obedience and immediate gratification with ease using credit. Educational systems also have played a role in the rise of levels of unrealistically positive opinions of self, especially in the US. The Baby Boomers were born to depressed parents and understood that their parents had a hard time providing for them. The understanding of this fact made them appreciate that the harder one worked, the easier it would be to provide for their family. Thus, their children who are majorly Millennials were given more by their parents, spoiling them. The effect of narcissism is seen in the workplace due to the presence of the Millennials and Generation Z. It is expected that narcissism would impact negatively on employee engagement. Productivity would mainly be affected by a rise in narcissism (Fenzel, 2013).

The different generations have different expectations as they enter the workforce. The Millennials and generation Z expect to earn very high amounts in salary. They desire to find out that the work they do is essential to the company or the environment. The expectation has been a result of the society encouraging it, but the current situation of the economy cannot match up. In a survey done recently, high school students thought they would be earning about $75,000 while the average earnings of a thirty-year-old were $27,000 (Fenzel, 2013). The Millenials and generation Z feel entitled to higher rewards for lesser work. Millennials and generation Z could be a less productive workforce due to unhappiness for the reason that organiz...

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