Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

Posts Tagged ‘Generation X’

Recession will change retirement plans…

Posted by sweens on May 11, 2009

When I was twenty one and was nearing graduation from University, I was continually flooded by professors, friends, family, etc; telling me how great it was to be my age.  I would have ample opportunities for employment as my generation was supposed to replace the baby boomers within the work force.  Sounded great at the time – but its not looking that way right now!

It seems to me that with the current recession we are facing, many individuals who had plans on retiring over the next few years are going to be putting those plans on hold.  RRSPs have been hurt with some people losing up to 50% (if not more) of their nest egg that they had planned on using for retirement.  It is not such a great time to be thinking retirement now is it?

As such, many of  these baby boomers who were supposed to be retiring in the next while are likely going to remain in the labour market while they try to rebuild their retirement savings.  This will likely mean less change within the labour market and the younger generations – like mine – will likely be shut out of many highly sought after positions for a little while longer.

Perhaps growing up or getting older is not looking as good as we all thought it would…

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Generation ‘X’ VS Generation ‘Y’: The Show Down (Part 2)

Posted by sweens on January 30, 2009

Let us continue with the blog entry from yesterday where we took a look at some of the generational issues that exist within the current labour market.  Today I would like to focus on the technological or communication differences between each generation.  Having a sound understanding of how each generation prefers to communicate can increase your odds of touching base with the person you are trying to connect with.



  By nature Traditionalists are private, the “silent generation”. Don’t expect members of this generation to share their thoughts immediately.
 For the Traditionalist an educator’s word is his/her bond, so it’s important to focus on words rather than body language or inferences.
 Face to face or written communication is preferred.
 Don’t waste their time, or let them feel as though their time is being wasted.  


Baby Boomers:

– Boomers are the “show me” generation, so your body language is important when communicating.
– Speak in an open, direct style but avoid controlling language.
– Answer questions thoroughly and expect to be pressed for the details.
– Present options to demonstrate flexibility in your thinking.


Generation X:

– Use email as a primary communication tool.
– Talk in short sound bites to keep their attention.
– Ask them for their feedback and provide them with regular feedback.
– Share information with them on a regular basis and strive to keep them in the loop.
– Use an informal communication style.


Generation Y:

– Use action words and challenge them at every opportunity.
– They will resent it if you talk down to them.
– They prefer email communication.
– Seek their feedback constantly and provide them with regular feedback..
– Use humour and create a fun learning environment. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
– Encourage them to take risks and break the rules so that they can explore new ways of learning.



Many of the articles I have read on generational gaps within the work force talked about how each generation came to embrace the trends they demonstrate on a daily basis and how the majority of these trends arose from events or social norms that existed and changed during their time.  For my generation it was events like the Oklahoma City bombing or the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal.  But more importantly for me, it was the fact that my generation relies so much on technology as it is something we have constantly been a witness to.


My generation is all about access to information.  When can I get it?  How fast can I get it?  Is mine giving me a better result then yours?  As such, Generation Y uses technology to its fullest extent.  We live in a world now where most 13 year old adolescents can type faster and navigate around a computer better then their parents because they have been on MSN, Facebook or MySpace for years.  We would prefer to text our friends rather then call them.  Just one of the ways this generation works.




I would suggest that this is worth mentioning because technologies are changing and so are the people who are in the labour market.  More people from Generation Y are in the work force and in order to be able to connect with them, you need to think about the best way to do that.  I for example, monitor my email like it was my sole purpose on this planet.  But I have an issue with the phone.  I would rather respond to a voicemail by sending someone an email.  When I need to touch base with someone my first choice would be to send them an email.  I have even negotiated a contract with one of my candidates over text messaging before (their choice – not mine). 


Now I realize that when you begin a new professional relationship you have no idea what age the person on the other end is – unless you are meeting them face to face so this may be difficult to use in person.  But as more Baby Boomers leave the work force and more Generation Yers enter it, the demographic of the labour market is undoubtedly going to change.  Jobs are being posted on places like Facebook and MySpace.  Email campaigns can be a huge success and more and more people will be carrying a BlackBerry so they can juggle between SMS, MMS, Email and PIN messages. 


I would suggest that in order to be successful in the fast paced environment the work force has become these days, people should be aware of who they are dealing with and what the best ways to connect with them are.  While I think that this blog has been pointed towards older generations coming on board with technology and following what younger generations are doing, this needs to be the opposite for younger generations who wish to connect with someone from an older generation and realize that their way is not always going to be the best way to get things done.


Like any new large movement, the technological one and age of networking is a powerful one and those that choose not to embrace it run the risk of being left behind.  It is however important to remember where we came from as it is impossible to move forward without knowing where you have been.    


Please read the following articles for more information:

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Generation ‘X’ VS Generation ‘Y’: The Show Down (Part 1)

Posted by sweens on January 29, 2009

As a younger individual within the work force I have always heard things relating to generational gaps within the work force and how different generations have a hard time communicating. I once attended a referee seminar where the presenter outlined the different motivations and communication strategies for each generation within the work force and surprising to me, it all seemed true. Let us take a look at some of the generation motivations at work.

Traditionalists: Born 1922 – 1945
Baby Boomers: Born 1946 – 1963
Generation X: Born 1964 – 1980
Generation Y: Born 1981 – 1995

Traditionalists value structure/consistency, strong work ethic, loyalty, patience, mission and respect. Baby Boomers value teamwork, long hours, hard work, recognition and respect. Generation X values autonomy, informality, competence, ongoing learning, feedback, balance and respect. Generation Y values achievement, structure, collaboration, mission and respect.

Traditionalists: Listen to their war stories; respect their experience; use them as mentors and in technology training, flexible work options and opportunities to learn and develop.
Baby Boomers: Seek recognition and credit; respect hard work; they prefer working in teams; they build consensus, like professional development; use to tap into experience.
Generation X: Prefer autonomy; like frequent feedback and learning opportunities; are flexible; like access to decision-makers; are fun and exciting; prefer results over process.
Generation Y: Prefer structure and guidance; seek input; are team oriented; they maintain technology and manage projects; aren’t time sensitive; prefer challenges and stress mission and values.

 If we take a look at some of these different values and work force traits it is evident that each generation is motivated and values different things both in and out of the work force. These traits and values should be considered when cross-generational relationships exist within the work force. It certainly has been evident to me since I began recruiting that recruiting someone who is from my generation is different then recruiting someone from the Baby Boomers generation.

Understanding these traits from generation to generation will help match the right people to the right jobs. Putting someone from Generation Y into an unstructured environment may not be the best fit. Similarly, putting a Baby Boomer into an environment where he/she is not required to put in long hours and work hard might not be the best fit for them. Understanding this mentality will certainly add to any recruiters tool belt.

Tomorrow we can take a look at the preferred communication methods for each generation because they certainly change from generation to generation and can change the face of a business relationship.

Some of the generational information from this post has been copied from:

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