February 2, 2016

Workplace Generation Wars

BY :     February 2, 2016

generation warsNext time you go to the coffee machine, please  take a look and try to determine the different generations you work with. Feel free to take some time. Baby-boomers, Gen X-ers, Gen Y-ers, etc. Can you see how those generations are co-habitating among your business world? Although underlying, it is a true Workplace generation war!

But before we go deeper into this battlefield, let me first define myself. I’m a pure Gen X-er, MTV Generation to be exact. During my cursus I had to manage both younger and older people. Still the case today by the way. Moreover, dealing with pre-sales activities, I go and visit my customers, mainly to understand their business needs and so I have to scrutinize within many working environments and human habits.

Almost each time I hear from (yet a new) professional relation issue (quite often I have to say), I feel a massive and tough shift growing day by day and everywhere. Relations among the generations are getting at a very low point. Why? Some irremediable facts.

The sunset of baby-boomers is beginning

Simple arithmetic:

baby-boomers work trip

In fact, the sunset is already here for a part of these seniors, born during the post-war years. This self-absorbed workaholic generation achieved enough to reach high hierarchical positions.
More than 220.000 CEO of Parisian companies will be retiring within the next 10 years. How to deal with passing on the baton to the next generations? Not that easy.

A large gap is pushing on the relation with the next generation, X-ers being much more skeptical minded, willing to cast doubts upon the statements of hierarchical superior and creating their own workplace with the development of IT corporate world.

generation X work trip

Getting mature and ready to lead,

Gen-Xers fall between two stools

  • Baby-boomers relinquishing to hand over power to younger people who “obviously do not have as strong a work ethic as they do”.
  • Gen-Y, honking the horn and rebelling against old school authority, impatient as they are to live new exciting adventure and challenging the X-ers for going faster in their new eWays of work adoption. You know this young guy next to your office, ready to fact-check everything you take for granted.

Internet digital revolution hit and destabilized the Baby-boomers harder than the Gen X-ers but the current Social network revolution is shaking both. More conservative, Baby-bommers simply refuse to go for that “new empty web, useless and dedicated to time wasters” while Gen-Xers pain to adapt to this new ways to communicate – so email-holic as they are.

SogetiLabs-icon-logoSo we notice then that IT evolution emphases this workplace generation war. And since we know how this evolution is going to speed up (let’s just read all the Sogeti Lab posts), peace will not fall out of the sky.

By the end of this decade
generational clashes in the workplace are about to
hit the flashpoint for companies which keep going on
blindly in people management business

Those who still apply monotonous methods, and think for sure that “these Gen X, Y and Z stories are just urban hogwash“, just be ready for the consequences. Any CxO who neglect these real HR issue, will be severely impacted: Lack of collaboration, image erosion, branding aging and an unmanageable brain drain

And for all of you who have the privilege to raise young children nowadays, I let you imagine how tough it woulbd be when the Z-ers will break into the workplace.

Future will be so exciting!

Kamel Abid

About

In summer 2014, Kamel Abid celebrated his 20th year as an IT professional, while swimming among computers and keyboards since the age of 5. Today, he manages tens of experts & architects, involved in complex transformation and integration of IT infrastructures in Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg.

More on Kamel Abid.

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    *Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Sogeti Group