Generational Differences (Mature Generation, Baby Boomer, Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Z) What impact are generational variations in communication styles having on the workplace? How...

Generational Differences (Mature Generation, Baby Boomer, Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Z)

What impact are generational variations in communication styles having on the workplace? How should employers deal with these differences effectively? What ideas are critical to serving all generation of customers wells?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Every generation fears for the future of the United States when it observes the next generation to come. An innate sense of conservatism with respect to societal norms causes many mature adults to look askew at the practices, beliefs, and cultural innovations of the younger generations. Elvis Presley scandalized the older generations when he emerged, as did rock and roll in general, and Public Enemy and N.W.A. shocked many of the Baby Boomers. The point is that each generation brings something new to the table and that something new might be perceived as threatening to the existing social order. This is true in the business world. Seemingly innovative middle-aged or older executives are often skeptical of the ideas advanced by their more youthful colleagues and underlings, and their cynicism is often without foundation. Rather, it is simply a reflection of the older individuals' failure to grasp the significance of the societal transformations taking place around them.

These distinctions between generations certainly includes communications. This “educator” recalls sharing office space with younger colleagues who routinely used a vocabulary (“he’s phat”) that simply did not exist a few years earlier. To suggest that a communications challenge existed would be an understatement. In the world of business, however, those challenges can be telling. Marketers seek to appeal to a certain demographic and that requires fluency in the vocabularies and cultures of that demographic. Communications obstacles must be overcome if certain types of companies are going to survive in a competitive marketplace. Forms of communication are as important today as vocabulary, with social networking having revolutionized (for better or worse) the way people interact. Older management-level generations cannot afford to ignore these social trends, no matter how ludicrous they may appear. Means and forms of communications evolve, and failing to adapt accordingly means lost revenue and even collapse. For many generations, the telephone was a principal means of communication; today, electronic mail (email), texting, and communication via social networking is the norm. Emojis are replacing words. This all represents a challenge to those who came before, as will future forms of communication to the users of texts and emojis today.

Customers can come in a variety of demographics, or a business might target only one demographic, like today’s "Millennials." Communications within an organization and between that organization and the public need to reflect a clear understanding (if not appreciation) of these distinctions between generations.