“For us to navigate the future, we’re going to have to understand each other better,” said Patrice Lewis, Senior Advisor, SIR, during the first Chamber Education Series of 2020. On Wednesday, January 22, Lewis spoke to Hampton Roads Chamber members and business leaders about the impact each generation has on the workforce.
Lewis’ presentation focused on the importance of understanding the trends that have shaped each generation and the people shaping them. She discussed the five generations that have shaped the American workforce, culture, and society: the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X (Gen X), Millennials, and Generation Z (Gen Z).
“Millennials are shaping culture and society today, Baby Boomers are reluctant to give up control, and Generation X is ready to take control. Most organizations have a culture problem and not a generational problem,” said Lewis.
Lewis told those in attendance that each generation had been molded by five salient points, which are: cohort, population size, money, generational stereotypes, and work. In five years, the workforce will become a millennial run workforce throughout the world. “We need to change the way we work because Millennials and Gen Z’s are controlling this,” said Lewis.
“Each generation is shaped by their wonder years.” Lewis described each generation and the characteristics which set them apart. “Generations are characterized by their age, priorities, time, and cohort.” The Silent Generation, born between 1928 – 1945. The Silent Generation has a hard work ethic, is loyal, driven, and respectful. Baby Boomers, born between 1946 – 1964, are optimistic, driven, transformative, and hard workers.
Generation X, born between 1961 – 1981, is independent, influenced by the emergence of pop culture, and computers. “Gen X also understands the work-life balance,” said Lewis. She described how Gen X is sometimes considered the “forgotten generation” that had more freedom than prior generations.
Millennials, born between 1981 – 1996, are influenced by the emergence of cell-phones, social media, and reality TV. “The sharing of opinions and ideas influences their generation,” stated Lewis. The last generation is Generation Z, born between 1996 – 2010. “They are self-educated, co-creative, and resourceful.” Generation Z is described as more self-aware and connected than previous generations.
With this in mind, Lewis reiterated the need for understanding and acceptance of these generations to navigate the future. “It’s no longer about a majority,” said Lewis. “It’s about different identities. That is causing a shift not only on how our generations work but in how future generations will work together.” As the workforce continues to shift, with Generation X paving the way, it’s critical to remember that each generation has been shaped by the previous one.
Lewis encouraged attendees to view their coworkers and business colleagues through a “generational lens” to understand how each person fits in the puzzle of life. “Millennials believe everyone is special and brings something important to the table,” said Lewis. She continued, “We’re going to have to understand that there is a place for everyone, and to navigate the future, we have to make everyone feel that they can belong.”
In closing, Lewis reminded the audience that each generation is unique. “There are positive and negative traits for each generation, and having a better understanding of what shapes those traits will help us to navigate working with and relating to different generations.”
The Hampton Roads Chamber is proud to serve as an Impactful Advocate, Powerful Economic Partner, Inspiring Ignitor, and Regional Collaborator, setting the conditions for businesses to succeed in The 757. Join us for the next Chamber Education Series on February 5, 2020: Everything You Need to Know about CBD.
Thank you to the following sponsors: Southern Bank (Presenting Sponsor), Bahama Breeze Island Grille (Lunch Sponsor); and Pure Paradise Water Virginia Beach (Beverage Sponsor).