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Leadership Gen - Baby Boomers

By:   •  April 22, 2018  •  Research Paper  •  3,735 Words (15 Pages)  •  183 Views

Page 1 of 15

1.0 Introduction

Many of the bosses and supervisors are baby boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964.  Those young employees, who are so-called millennials or Y generations, were born between 1980 and 1997.  According to Gimbel (2017), the conflict between younger and older generations in the workplace is due to negative assumptions.  Many baby boomers see millennial as impatient, unprofessional, and lazy, while millennials may see baby boomers as unapproachable or old-school.

These two generations have different norms, beliefs, circumstances, value systems and life events.   Many of the strongest and long-lasting norms and beliefs were shaped from what we have seen and heard when we were young.  Erickson (2011) pointed out that it influences for our life time what we value, how we measure success, whom we trust, and the priorities we set for our own lives, including the role work will play with them.  Therefore, clashes in workplaces may always happen when two different generations are working together in the same workplace.  Kandell (2017) pointed out that the generation gap can produce much conflict as co-workers and managers grapple with the various challenges.

The clashes are impacting many different areas such as hiring talents, management of change, team building, motivating, productivity and performance in an organisation.  The consequence may result high employee turnover rate, difficult to hire new employees and low employee engagement in an organisation.

To understand these clashes in the workplaces, firstly, what the scenario are happening in workplaces in Hong Kong would be reviewed.  Then, the perspectives of the millennials will be analysed to reveal their norms, belief, circumstances, value and life event.  Next, the gap between these two generations will be focused to find out what the root causes of the clashes are.  At the end of this paper, solutions and recommendations will be provided to narrow these gaps so that the clashes can be reduced in workplaces.

2.0 What Clashes are being found in Workplaces in Hong Kong?

We always hear the boss say, “You are correct, but I’m the boss to make the decision!”, “Just do your job according to what I told!” and “the Millennials expect to be promoted after working in the company for 6 months” in different offices in Hong Kong.  

The Millennials may want to wear clothes that are comfortable instead of formal dressing at work.  They might also want to listen to our music while they are working in the office.  The bosses (i.e. baby boomers) expect them to wear formal dressing and concentrate at work.  The old generation may think they are the norms and policy at work and expect the youngsters to follow strictly.  They do not understand why the employees could have such requests when they are being at work.  The bosses (i.e. Baby Boomer) expects the millennials could copy their models and patterns at work when they were young thirty years ago but the young generation is not willing to follow.  They are not willing to understand, learn and communicate with the younger generation in the office, which created a lot of arguments in the workplaces nowadays.

Clashes between the bosses or supervisors and the young employees always happen in the workplaces in Hong Kong.  

3.0 Perspectives of Millennials at work

According to the survey reported in the Wall Street Journal (2008), the Millennial's greatest expectations are higher pay (74% of respondents); flexible work schedules (61%); a promotion within a year (56%); and more vacation or personal time (50%).  In this section, we are going to reveal the background and expectations of millennials.  These areas include technologically savvy, perception at work, work ethic, work place environment and working relationship, communication with people and motivation.

3.1 Technologically Savvy

Millennials were born in the midst of escalating computing advances and electronic device proliferation (Litmus 2006).  They grew up in a digital and technological environment whereas they are the most technically literate.  Millennial relationships to information technology seem to give rise to a set of less tangible cultural norms, which have a tremendous influence on their approach to the workplace (Kandell 2015). Millennials continually connected to the internet, probably 24/7, and mixed up with work and private lives in the same line.  They check their phone after waking up, at and after work or driving their cars.  They use social media as platforms connecting with their friends, colleagues and peers, watching videos, checking pictures, reading news from Goggle or Yahoo.   They use social media mainly for connection while the older generations use Facebook to check on their kids or colleagues.  

3.2 Perception Towards Work Habits

Unlike baby boomers, millennials value work life balance and treasure their family and personal life by controlling their time and a flexible work environment.  They experienced their boomer parents working for long working hours but eventually faced being laid-off or divorced.  

They are life-centred and have perceptions that they work to live.  They love to do challenging, fulfilling and meaningful work.  They can be multitasking in doing their jobs at one time.  They treat the relationship with the boss or the company as transactional.  People in this generation are searching for short term rewards and admiration from their job.  They are comfortable with and adapt to the rapid changes in the environment easily.  They fight for producing something worth the time, money and effort spent to make a difference.  Care of community, society and environment are natural remarks in this generation.

3.3 Work Ethic

Millennials are hardworking generation only when the work are meaningful to them.  According to Yarbrough (2016), some researchers found that most millennials work more than 40 hours per week and they do not expect to stop working when they leave the office.  56% and 33% of them reported that they worked more than 9 hours per day and more than 10 hours a day respectively.  91% of them even reported that they were contacted about work during their evenings and weekends, and 12 percent were contacted daily during their off hours.  

Moreover, they seek for conveniences with cell phone working on email, social media, messengers, etc.  They prefer to perform their work anywhere and anytime instead of regular hours and place in the office.  Effectiveness and efficiency are the core value that this generation can get the job done.

3.4 Work Place Environment and Working Relationship

According to Strauss (2016), workplace flexibility ranked the topmost concern (i.e. 19.1%) followed by healthcare coverage (i.e. 16.9%) regarding the benefits considerations of the Millennials.  Moreover, it is a generation of eight-second attention span.  They would not think about the later chapters in their career, instead, they seek for accumulating rewarding experience.

Furthermore, parents and teachers gave a lot of reinforcements and feedback when the millennials were at home and in schools.  They expect the same reinforcements and frequent feedback would be given in the work place.  With their mobile devices and personal computer, they simply do not believe all work or tasks should be done in the office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Interpersonal relationship at work is important for millennials and they prefer to make their work more fun.  They love to work in a positive, optimistic and energetic environment and a company which is concerned for its employees.

3.5 Communication with Others

According to Troy (2015), people are becoming more reliant on the interactions they have online rather than their offline, face-to-face relationships.  Kluger (2012) pointed out that developmental psychologists studying the impact of texting worry especially about young people, not just because kids are such promiscuous users of the technology, but because their interpersonal skills.  This has been why the other generations might think the millennials are not good at interpersonal skills and deal with the relationship.

3.6 Motivation

All generations including millennials treat good pay and benefits as an important motivator to remain in an organization.  Other than this factor, millennials prefer personal development opportunities as secondary motivator.   Performance bonus and extra annual leave are the preferred benefits what the millennials are seeking for.  


4.0 Gaps between Baby Boomers and Millennials

In this section, we are going to look at the gap between the millennials and the baby boomers.  In understand with these gaps, we would understand what the possible reasons causing the conflict between the baby boomers and the millennials.

4.1 High –Tech Savvy of Millennials vs Low-Tech Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers do not recognize the high-tech savvy of Millennials as they tried to mask themselves to be short of technological skills.  They validate whether Millennials can have writing or speaking skills the organization would deem as effective.  They have impression that the Millennials can write disorganize personal blogs, twitters, Facebook or text messages but not the formal letters, memorandums and reports in an organizational context.  


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