The 21st century has ushered in a new, generation-bending era in the U.S. workplace. Fifty-five year-old Baby Boomers are on project teams with 22-year-old Millennials and reporting to 45-year-old GenXers while Vets, though fewer in numbers, retain positions of power and influence. Within the context of this new generational reality, dynamic change—economic, social, political—is continuously affecting individuals, organisations, and workplaces; at the same time, amid all these influences, the very constancy of life and human nature remains unchanged.
This convergence of generations has far-reaching implications for them and the organizations they serve, and it raises some crucial questions:
- What impact does such a multigenerational workforce have on the workplace and its design?
- What role should differing generational values, work styles, and communication methods have on that design?
- How can each generation be most effectively engaged, both as individuals and as members of teams and participative processes?
This merging of generations is happening amid an economic climate that has changed plans and altered expectations. “We see both individuals and organizations looking to survive and to prepare for what’s next, whatever that looks like,” says Ginny Baxter, Applied Knowledge Network Lead at Herman Miller. “We see individuals looking for connection to each other, their work, and the organisations they work for. We see organisations focusing on engaging their employees and succeeding in the marketplace.”