For years, work organizations, social scientists and the media have discussed the conflicts and successes, the varied needs and wants and the strengths and limits of the multigenerational workforce. As the global marketplace expands, the talents of all generations can be leveraged and the behavioral, environmental and work/family balance challenges can be minimized to help move your organization forward.

Work organizations are sensitive to issues of diversity in race, culture and gender and have developed policies and programs to protect and to promote diversity. To some extent, generational diversity has yet to be addressed in the boardroom or on the shop floor.

Defining a generation

A generation is defined by the common attitudes, experiences and preferences that develop in the context of social and economic events of a defined period of time. Generations typically are associated with birth year ranges. Generational commonalities transcend cultural and gender differences. The social and economic influences that create popular culture are experienced by all within a generation, even though culture and gender play a role in how the experience is interpreted individually.

As we look at the current labor market, in which the Traditional Generation delays retirement or returns to the workplace, Baby Boomers begin to retire, Generation Xers realign their work/family priorities and Generation Y enters the workforce with increased and distinctly different demands of their employers than those of previous generations, we are reminded about the challenges and opportunities of the multigenerational workplace. As your employee assistance program (EAP) has evolved to meet the changing needs of each generation in the workplace—from occupational alcoholism programs for the Traditional Generation, to short-term counseling for the Baby Boomers, to work/life services for Generation X—your EAP is ready to grow in response to the workplace challenges and issues facing Generation Y.

This material will help your organization engage the multigenerational workforce with tools and information to:

  • manage and motivate talent
  • engage all employees for a productive work environment
  • align benefits with the needs of each generational group

Begin by “meeting” each generation, to understand its formative characteristics (such as values, attributes and work styles), ethnic/cultural implications, generational perspectives on the EAP and common EAP issues: