Good Example Of Literature Review On The Multigenerational Workplace

Type of paper: Literature Review

Topic: Workplace, Employee, Generations, Workforce, Education, Diversity, Management, Literature

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2020/11/24

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The aging workforce is a fact of life for organizations. According to the last national census, the number of citizens aged 65 and older currently constitute 12 percent of the United States population, which is one out of eight people (Aoa.gov, 2015). According to The American Association of Retired People (2015), workers over the age of 50 comprised 27% of the national workforce in 2005. In 2009, the number of seniors in the population was 39.6 million (Aoa.gov, 2015). The estimates for 2014 were that the number of people aged 50 and over in the workforce was 32 percent. By 2030, it is believed the numbers will almost double at 72.1 million people and an estimated 19 percent of the total population. The numbers impact every facet of American economics, commerce, and the health care profession.
With these numbers of senior citizens in the labor arena and creating a growing influence in the marketplace, the concept of “multigenerational diversity” has developed. With it, the task of managers to bring four generations of employees into a working cooperative is challenging. According to a Gallup poll in 2006, the cost to employers of employee disengagement was $328 billion annually (Murphy, 2007).
The purpose of this paper is to explore each generation’s workplace characteristics and identify ways organizations can blend these generations into a cohesive workforce for the future.

Communication

In American workplaces today, three generations work side-by-side. Each age group carries their own belief system and work ethic which has the potential to conflict with those of another group. Angeline (2011) addresses the important of communication to enable each member of the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y to understand and productively work with the employees in the other groups. The need for multigenerational diversity is for managerial staff as well as their employees (Hahn, 2011). She promotes the use of the ACORN method to facilitate communication between generations. It takes into account the cultural differences and their resulting perceptions and blends them together for use in a cooperative environment (see Representation 1 below)

Representation 1. Combining generational diversity for smooth company operations:

ACORN’s Methodology
Each generation tends to have an individual communication style, also (Comperatore and Nerone, 2008). Traditionalists handwrite memos and like face-to-face communication. They’re discrete and show respect through the use of “Mr.” and “sir”. They demonstrate good grammar with no profanity in the workplace. While slow to warm up, they prefer words over body language in a manner that doesn’t waste their time. Baby Boomers tend to be diplomatic and speak openly. They like their managers to be personable and demand to be included when getting a consensus. They prefer to use first names to establish a rapport. As team players, they want to feel important to the company’s vision. Gen X-ers are direct to the point of being blunt, using straight talk and a presentation of facts. Their communication style is informal and they talk in short sections of information. As a bridge between the youngest and oldest generations, avoid buzz words and industry jargon. Based on their separation between work and play, they don’t want to be called outside the office. Gen Y-ers can be motivational with their positive style. They communicate through texting and emails for convenience and time-saving. These messages are frequently fun and non-professional. They communicate in person only for important reasons. They like action verbs and entertaining visuals. However, their personal communication skills may lead to misunderstandings, so proper respect is essential.

Enhancement of Employees’ Perceptions

Bell and Narz (2007) adds the group of Traditionalists to components of the workforce. They address the need to lure young employees and retain older ones. They find that managerial flexibility is the key to creating a cohesive employee base. Their criteria for each group is that Traditionalists are over 60 years of age, Baby Boomers are mid-40’s to 60, Generation X members are in their mid-20’s to early 40’s, and Generation Y members are from the early 20’s and younger. Baby Boomers have a strong work ethic with women working alongside men. The values of sexual equality, individuality, hard work, and growing personally are important to these employees. They will question their superiors, influencing a less hierarchical working structure. As 30 percent of the population, they dominate the management cultures. Delaying retirement is the prominent goal and almost 80 percent want to continue to work after retirement (AARP, Baby Boomers Envision Retirement II, 2004). Generation Xers are self-reliant and focused more on independence and parenting than their careers. Employer loyalty is not seen in this group as much as the Traditionalists and Baby Boomers, so development of a wide range of skills allows changing jobs to suit their needs. Generation Y members are the largest population since the Baby Boomers. With diverse lifestyles and respect for diversity, they are accustomed to technology and fast-paced work environments with creative challenges. However, they have a short attention span.

Cultural Trends

With changing economic conditions, employees facing retirement frequently want to continue working part-time. Phased retirement is very appealing to employees who want to work within the influence of increasingly common health problems or family situations. Hekyer and Lee (2012) propose that older workers stay less for income and rather for status, social interaction, and maintaining a sense of identity. Workers in the groups of the Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers may opt for sabbaticals or an extended leave of absence to pursue additional education or pursue personal goals. These employees are the faster growing number in the workforce, attention needs to be paid to an adequate number of younger workers to maintain future business success (Murphy, (2007).
Be retaining these employees as long as possible, the smaller group of Gen Y-ers have the opportunity to gain more training and experience before accepting roles with advanced responsibility.
Organizational culture that is supportive of each employee’s choices for their professional and personal lives allows flexible work programs to be successful. Clarification of the priorities of the company and the responsibilities of the worker rewards employees for productivity.

Option Offerings

Flexible work schedules are an option to meet the different needs of the four groups of employees (Bell and Narz, 2007). Flexible work schedules address how many hours are worked and when, work locations, technological skills, opportunities for professional development, and association with mentors for adjustment. The ability to telecommute promotes the ability to work from home or from another site. The use of computers, email, texting, and smart phones allow communication and data accessing without being physically present in the office. Flextime and telecommuting lower needs for office space. For example, Sun Microsystems employed 80 percent of their 20,000 workers remotely; the company estimated a savings of $255 million between 2001 and 2005 (Greengard, 2005). The arrangement also allowed employees flexibility to work around family needs.

In work environments that experience periods of high activity, scheduling part-time or infrequent employees can boost workers when needed.

Awareness of Needs
The difference general needs of each generation are important to a manager when addressing scheduling and goals of the employees (Comperatore and Nerone, 2008). For example, Traditionalist employees are looking for more flexibility in their schedules as needs such as medical appointments or caring for family members need chucks out of a traditional work day. Going to part-time employment is a viable option for many of them as they head into retirement but have the need or desire to stay in the workplace.
Baby Boomers are interested in programs that allow a better balance between their work and their families (Bell & Narz, 2007). This has become more difficult as work weeks have increased to 47 hours. Bright (2010) conducted a study that found that age is a factor in workplace compatibility due to different needs regarding advancement opportunities, gaps in perceptions of job responsibilities, and importance of socialization. In addition, Boomers have problems with Gen-Xers and Gen-yers as their supervisors; they’ve paid their dues and believe the younger employees will want to change their ways of doing things (Comperatore and Nerone, 2008). Baby Boomers can view Gen-Xers have a poor work ethic because they prefer to work from home and are more concerned with their personal lives while Gen-Xers see Boomers as not quick enough to adapt to changes in technology.
Generation X members are the future corporate leaders while being part of the smallest group of employees. Family is very important to them, yet they are goal-oriented in terms of their work. Remote employment is a good option for these workers until their children are more independent. At that point, they can move into a more traditional work schedule. Seen as lazy by the older employees, they do have short attention spans which require them to move from one project to the next quickly to avoid boredom.
Generation Y-ers are sophisticated, multicultural, and apart from tradition. They are success-oriented while being extremely conscious of the environment. They want recognition, even in small ways, and opportunities for ways to “shine”.

Building on Strengths

Murphy (2007) understands that when teams are composed of mixed generations, managers need to recognize the strengths of each person. When individuals are different, applaud it and urge them to become more of what they are rather than try to blend in. Bell and Narz (2007) applied attributes to each designated group in the workforce. Traditionalists work daytime hours and expect evening, weekend, and longer hours on occasion. They work hard and put their responsibility before entertainment. The Traditionalist members are retiring, but remain influential. Comperatore and Nerone (2008) state some companies focus on hiring Traditionalist employees for specific positions based on their work ethic and due to their relative undesirability in the workforce due to lack of technological skills, they appreciate job opportunities and strive to retain them.
Baby Boomers tend to be more educated and in pursuit of management positions. They value to opportunity to be creative and move from one position to another for diverse experience. They are good at seeing the “big picture”, breaking it down into assignments and working well in teams. They work hard and are willing to contribute past the expectations of their position.
Members of Generation X have a consumer mentality that is flexible to change. They communicate directly and prefer to work independently with minimum supervisory input. Not intimidated by authority, they are good task managers and generally highly educated. By giving a Gen-X employee a Boomer mentor, they not only become aware of the contributions each generation has to offer but one builds on the strength of the other to develop a more comprehensive approach to solving workplace problems. Studies have shown that X-ers are more empathetic and can eventually work well with Boomers.
Generation Y members are also consumer-minded and highly educated. They are goal oriented with optimistic attitudes. They have the ability to quickly multitask with technological skills. While creating working relationships between individual Traditionalist employees and Gen Y employees may take some patience, aligning Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers together eases some initial conflicts. Encouraging social activities together such as working together on an event can produce generational understanding and promote corporate efficiency.

Pursuit of Different Perspectives

While teams with multiple generations say they tolerate differences, efficiency is dependent on going past tolerance (Murphy, 2007). Managers who select people with different perspectives to work together promote creativity and innovation. Tannenbaum (2014) stresses that companies today are actively seeking out diversity when hiring their employees. By recruiting and retaining workers with different races, ages, disabilities, and genders, they have unique opportunities for strengths and talents to benefit the bottom line of the organizations.
In dealing with multigenerational diversity, managers start by trying to understand different expectation of group members (Angeline, 2011)(Bright, 2010). Pursing educational options, observation, and interviews are ways to accomplish this. The goal is the creation of committed, productive, creative employees working together as a team. Sherman (2006) notes that unresolved conflict lead to staff turnover and a decrease in productivity. Ways to prevent generational conflict is to educate employees about differences in attitudes and values with ground rules for respect and tolerance for al generations. Reinforcement of team goals can prevent and resolve conflict. Taking into account the working goals and perspectives of the different generational groups is important for managers seeking integration between the members (Hekyer & Lee, 2012). For instance, while Baby Boomers cling to their positions into retirement and beyond, Generation X-ers find their jobs attractive yet unattainable while older employees remain on the job. Resentment of lack of opportunities can create hostility toward management and break down communication and effectiveness of the team.
Flexible scheduling maximizes the use of each type of employee by capitalizing on their strengths. For instance, it is estimated that the cost of replacing an employee is twice the annual salary for the position (Browne, 2005). Toward the end of improving training and orientation, semi-retired employees can train a replacement for up to five years after leaving fulltime employment. Human Resource managers are looking toward skills over experience, but smooth integration into the position may rely on the older employee (Hekyer & Lee, 2012).
There are important advantages to having a multigenerational workforce (Murphy, 2007). Multiple prospective by several generations create broad-based decisions. Innovation and creativity is encouraged to meet the needs of a diverse consumer base.
White (2010) offers a different perspective. She believes that there is no multigenerational diversity. She refers to studies that show job commitment is fairly universal across age groups even though communication styles may be different based on exposure to technology. The perceptions of a good leader and what constitute general job responsibilities are fairly universal. All employees express the need for managerial respect, competence, connection, and autonomy. White proposes that a perception against age rather than generation is what is hurting corporate cohesion. Successful managers should start looking at what generations have in common rather than how they are different. Angeline (2011) agrees that the concept of multigenerational diversity has received more attention than is warranted. All employees compete for positions and are driven by personal agendas. Regardless of the validity of a true age diversity, employees of all generations should support and learn from each other to benefit themselves and their employer.

References

AARP. (2015). AARP Research: Information, Insights, and Trends Impacting Americans 50+ -
AARP. Retrieved 23 February 2015, from http://www.aarp.org/research/
Angeline, T. (2011). Managing generational diversity at the workplace: expectations and
perceptions of different generations of employees. African Journal of Business
Management, 5(2), 249-255.
Aoa.gov. (2015). Aging Statistics. Retrieved 20 February 2015, from
http://www.aoa.gov/Aging_Statistics/
Bell, N. & Narz M. (2007). Meeting the Challenges of Age Diversity in the Workplace. CPA
Bright, L (2010). Why Age Matters in the Work Preferences of Public Employees: A
Comparison of Three Age-Related Explanations. Personal Professional Management, 9(1), 1-14. doi:10.1177/009102601003900101
Browne, M. (2005). Flextime to the Nth Degree. Journal of Accountancy. Retrieved 23 February
2015, from
http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2005/sep/flextimetothenthdegree.html
Comperatore, E. & Nerone, F (2008, June). Coping With Different Generations In The Workplace. Journal of Business & Economic Research, 6(6), 15-29.
Greengard, S. (2005). Sun's Shining Example. Workforce Management, 48-49.
Hahn, J. (2011).  Managing Multiple Generations:  Scenarios From the Workplace.  Nursing
Forum, 46(3), 119-127.  doi:  10.1111/j.1744-6198.2011.002223.x
Hekyer, R. & Lee, D. (2012). The twenty-first century multiple generation workforce.
Eduction & Training, 54(7), 565-578.
Murphy, S. (2007). Leading a Multigenerational Workforce. Washington, D.C.: AARP.
Sherman, R. (2006, May 31). Leading a Multigenerational Nursing Workforce: Issues,
Challenges and Strategies. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues In Nursing, 11(2), Manuscript 2. doi: 10.3912/OJIN.Vol11No02Man02.
Tannenbaum, N. (2014, May 8). Talent Management: Managing the Multigenerational
Workplace. UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, 1-4.
White, M. (2011). Rethinking Generation Gaps in the Workplace: Focus on Shared Values. UNC Kenane-Flagler Business School, 1-11.
Annotated Bibliography
AARP. (2015). AARP Research: Information, Insights, and Trends Impacting Americans 50+ -
AARP. Retrieved 23 February 2015, from http://www.aarp.org/research/
This is a graph of the numbers of Americans working who are aged 50 and over.
Angeline, T. (2011). Managing generational diversity at the workplace: expectations and
perceptions of different generations of employees. African Journal of Business
Management, 5(2), 249-255.
This is a very useful scholarly article by Tay Angeline. The author is writing about generational diversity in Malaysia. It is an important article because it outlines that both United States (US) and Malaysia employers are experiencing the same diversity issues. Angeline offers solutions that her government is reviewing to aid in the generation diversity in her country. The author offers an excellent breakdown of the characteristics of the generations in her country that seems to mirror the characteristics
of US generations. This article reveals that this is a global issue not just a US issue.
Bell, N. & Narz M. (2007). Meeting the Challenges of Age Diversity in the Workplace. CPA
This article offers insight into a CPA firm with four generations working together. The author primarily focuses on employees wanting flexible work arrangements. they briefly review each generation. Bell & Narz provide statistics to back their claim that employees want flexible work arrangements broken down by all employees, male and female. The article is from a scholarly journal used by CPAs.
Bright, L (2010). Why Age Matters in the Work Preferences of Public Employees: A
Comparison of Three Age-Related Explanations. Personal Professional Management, 9(1), 1-14. doi:10.1177/009102601003900101
This article is a scholarly study of studies on generational differences. The author is studying the validity of various studies on the multigenerational workforce. The study does a good job of finding consistency in the results of other studies. The author does point out areas where the studies analyzed are inconsistent with each other. This article primarily is centered around age/work preferences. Age/work preferences is a breakdown of how each generation prefers to work, in the areas of recognition, task meaningfulness, advancement, leadership, professional growth and monetary incentives.
Bright provides excellent insight to these studies. Areas of consistency and inconsistency
are thoroughly reviewed. It tends to be a difficult article to read because of the scientific nature of the study. It does not flow in a matter that the average person can comprehend the material easily. The article does not provide solutions for employers or how to implement any of his findings. The charts at the end of the study are easy to read and well thought out. Leonard Bright holds a PhD in Public Administration and Policy. He is an Assistant Dean of Graduate Education; Associate Professor with The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.
Browne, M. (2005). Flextime to the Nth Degree. Journal of Accountancy. Retrieved 23 February
2015, from
http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2005/sep/flextimetothenthdegree.html
This article discussed the advantages of using flexible scheduling.
Comperatore, E. & Nerone, F (2008, June). Coping With Different Generations In The Workplace. Journal of Business & Economic Research, 6(6), 15-29.
go into great detail of why each generation has certain characteristics. They explore the positive and negative attributes that each generation brings to the workplace. The authors do review ACORN and demonstrate how this method of approaches can be added to a business. Finally, they offer suggestions regarding how all the generations can work together.
This article offers excellent graphics that are easy to read and understand. The authors
definitely have a strong understanding of what a multiple generation workforce looks like
today. The authors offer excellent solutions in an easy to follow format. Comperatore is a career Services Specialist/Adjunct Professor at the University of North Georgia. Nerone is a retired Dean for the Johnson School of Business at Hodges University. This is a scholarly article found in a reputable business journal.
Greengard, S. (2005). Sun's Shining Example. Workforce Management, 48-49.
This article discusses the implementation by the Sun Company to address the needs of
their employees in regards to flexible scheduling. The resulting savings and satisfaction
of employees encourage the use of this type of scheduling for managers.
Hahn, J. (2011).  Managing Multiple Generations:  Scenarios From the Workplace.  Nursing
Forum, 46(3), 119-127.  doi:  10.1111/j.1744-6198.2011.002223.x
Joyce Hahn provides operational ideas for companies to implement that are experiencing
a multigenerational workforce. The author offers two real-life scenarios regarding multigenerational conflicts and provides possible solutions to these conflicts. Although
most of her article involves the nursing workforce her scenarios and solutions could apply to any industry. Hahn does an excellent job of describing ACORN. ACORN is a method to help employers meld the various generations of workers in their organization.
used in the nursing industry.
Hekyer, R. & Lee, D. (2012). The twenty-first century multiple generation workforce.
Eduction & Training, 54(7), 565-578.
This scholarly article explores the issue of multiple generations in the United Kingdom (UK). The authors study the similarities, differences and overlaps of what they term a “cross-generational” workforce. This paper reviews the issues of generation diversity in the Higher Education (HE) sector of the UK. They do point out that this issue effects all industries not just HE. The authors explore the future of a multiple generation workforce and how HE can train, teach and coach companies to adapt to the changes facing them. The authors point out that HE needs to offer classes to incoming students so they are ready for a multigenerational workforce in the future.
Hekyer and Lee provided a great deal of insight into the issue of a multiple generations in
the UKs HE providers. This article points out some industrialized countries are faced with the same issue. Both Hekyer and Lee work in the Department of Academic Enterprise at Teeside University in Middlesbrough, UK. It is unknown what positions they each hold at the University.
Murphy, S. (2007). Leading a Multigenerational Workforce. Washington, D.C.: AARP.
This booklet was written for the American Association of Retired People (AARP).
in this issue and offers ideas about how they can navigate through each generation.
the similarities are between the generations, not just what they don’t have in common.
She includes a section of frequently asked questions with in depth answers. There is an area that offers excellent advice for best practices for an organization to implement. Murphy introduces the Titanium Rule. The Titanium Rule is “Do unto others, keeping
their preferences in mind”. This rule is about how to communicate between the
generations. It teaches employees what type (formal or direct and straightforward) of communication is more appropriate for each generation.
This is a well written booklet with excellent presentations. The graphics are easy to read and understand. The author has exhibited a great deal of knowledge on the subject and covers areas that some organizations may not have considered. Susan Murphy holds a PhD in Human and Organization System. She has been a business and organizational consultant for 25 years with extensive business experience.
Sherman, R. (2006, May 31). Leading a Multigenerational Nursing Workforce: Issues,
Challenges and Strategies. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues In Nursing, 11(2), Manuscript 2. doi: 10.3912/OJIN.Vol11No02Man02.
This scholarly article from a nursing journal gives insight into the struggles the nursing
industry experiences with a multigenerational workforce. The author offers excellent background regarding the various generations within the nursing industry. Sherman
offers interesting strategies with real world solutions that can be instituted into any
organization. The author introduces a “synergy model” to be used in decreasing conflict
within each generation cohort. This model allows each generation to understand the value every generation brings to the workplace.
Sherman’s assessment of the issues regarding nurses is spot on. The nursing industry
is one of the first industries to experience a multigenerational workforce. This industry
has been the fore runner of identifying problems and developing solutions. The author
exhibits a great deal of knowledge and understanding. Sherman is the Director of the
Nursing Leadership Institute in Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida
Atlantic University. She holds a EdD in Nursing Leadership and has 25 years of
nursing leadership with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Tannenbaum, N. (2014, May 8). Talent Management: Managing the Multigenerational
Workplace. UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, 1-4.
Nancy Tannenbaum points out that many companies focus on recruitment and retention, when in fact, there is an increasing demand for multigenerational diversity in the work-
force. Tannenbaum provides steps for organizations to aid in a more cohesive work
environment. The author feels organizations should identify the similarities of each
generations when recruiting, retaining and engaging employees from all generations. She thinks once addressed, employers will actually strengthen an organization.
White, M. (2011). Rethinking Generation Gaps in the Workplace: Focus on Shared Values. UNC Kenane-Flagler Business School, 1-11.
This article offers a totally different point of view of the multigenerational workforce.
White does offer an excellent and different view than others who have written on
the subject. It is nice to read about the so called other side of the coin on this issue.
Her article is well thought out and offers excellent studies to prove her point. Some of her points could be viewed as controversial in that others may not agree with her assessment that there is no multigenerational issues at all in the workforce. The author is not a scholar in the area of Human Resources she is affiliated with the University of North Carolina Executive Development Program.

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