Talking 'bout my generation

“We are,” said a friend who, like me, is in his 40s, “the last generation that doesn’t really understand the potential of digital.”

Okay, maybe that was a generalisation but look at the evidence; our children are totally cool with computers and live their lives through tablets, laptops and mobile devices.

Compare them to our parents. Yes, some of them are texting and getting into Facebook but essentially the digital revolution has passed them by.

This generation gap was highlighted in a recent piece of research which suggested that for the first time in history, four generations are sharing the workplace – from traditionalists (born before 1945) and baby boomers to Generation X and the Millenials (those born between 1981 and 1999).

For communicators, this poses a challenge. How do we get these different audiences on side? What technology do we use? How can we keep everyone happy?

The answer, of course, is a classic multi-channel approach. In internal comms, we are faced with a barrage of information and it is our role to understand it, translate it and then communicate using the right method for the right audience.

The good news is that – budgets aside (and that’s a subject for a different blog) – we do have those channels available.

At Sequel, we have communicated to all four generations in recent months, using a variety of communication to get messages across.

Whether it’s the traditional printed magazine, a PC-based PDF or a mobile friendly site, we’re using a variety of tools to keep everyone happy.

Whether they are into Glenn Miller, The Beatles, Take That or Plan B…

So, which group do you fall into?

Traditionalists – Born before 1945

The Traditionalists, also called the Veterans, Matures, the Silent Generation and the Greatest Generation, believe in building a lifetime career with a single employer and expect an employer to take care of them.

The generation tends to be technically challenged and prefers one-on-one communication, telephone or written memos. When it comes to work feedback, ongoing praise is not necessary.

Baby Boomers – Born between 1946 – 1964

Having a stellar career and professional accomplishments are important to the Baby Boomers. Known for its workaholics, the generation thrives on competition, personal fulfillment, quality and involvement.

They communicate best one-on-one; therefore, they tend to hold meetings. With this one-on-one mentality they have a negative feeling toward flexible schedules or working from home.

Generation X – Born between 1965 -1980

Many Gen Xers grew up in a two income family, watching their Baby Boomer parents attempt to have it all. As a result, this generation works hard but tends to seek work/life balance.

Generation Xers prefer immediate feedback and are more likely to communicate via email rather than in-person meetings.

Millennials – Born between 1981 – 1999

The Millennials, also known as Generation Y, the Internet Generation and the Echo Boomers, are the youngest in the workforce. Like Generation X, the Millennials crave balance and lack loyalty to a workplace. They tend to be entrepreneurial and goal oriented, but work is a means to an end.

Since computers and Internet have been around their entire lives, Millennials are extremely comfortable with technology and prefer to use it to communicate.

Nick Andrews