How Old Did You Say You Are?


Do you know how many different generations are currently employed in IT? Four. That's right, four distinct generations, each with its own work ethic and experience, all trying to collaborate in a fast-paced technology environment.

Think about this: We've got people who were born before the invention of the ballpoint pen interacting with people who were born with a computer mouse in their hand.

Or this: We've got workers from the so-called "Silent Generation", who are motivated primarily by respect, interacting with workers from the "Millennial Generation," who are motivated primarily by recognition.

Add to the mix the fact that technology changes at a pace that's something like dog years squared. For example, according to a recent study from IT staffing firm TEKsystems study, Generation X (those born between 1964 and 1980) make up the largest percentage of IT workers. Consider the technological changes we saw just in this one generation. People born in 1964 grew up with electric typewriters, eight-track cassette players and Pong. People born in 1980 grew up with PCs, CD players (and later digital filesharing), and SimCity.

"Businesses and IT leaders will need to make adjustments to their resource management strategies to accommodate the varied demographics of their workforce," says TEKsystems VP of Professional Development, Matt Hannigan. "You can't expect to manage a new generation by old standards. Leaders will need to be vigilant in understanding what's important to workers, what they expect, what inspires them and what stifles their passion."

Here are five books that can help you understand the Millennial Generation. For example, did you know that members of the Millennial Generation (born between 1980 and 2000) expect their leaders to teach them new information and strongly prefer a team-oriented environment? So says the TEKsystems study, which also notes that they are motivated by messages such as: "You'll be working with a team of bright, creative people" or "Our company values employees who will work together toward a common vision." Another key characteristic of Millennial workers is their desire for greater degrees of work/life balance and effective use of new or emerging technologies.

Indeed, tech-savvy workers in general are frustrated by what they perceive as senior management's ignorance about the important roles that mobile devices and social networking play in their day-to-day business performance. For example, 84% of so-called iWorkers surveyed by Unisys say the use of consumer technology is needed in the workplace for employee retention and productivity; only 33% of organizational leaders agree.

TEKsystems' Hannigan further says, "Today, IT leaders must not only pay attention to technology trends, business drivers and budgets, they also must recognize and respond to social changes that will undoubtedly affect the dynamics of their workplace."

We're guessing you've had some generational clashes of your own in the workplace. We'd love to hear about them. Share your experiences here, or email susan.nunziata@ziffdavisenterprise.com

Susan Nunziata is Editor In Chief of CIO Insight.


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