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FLEXO Magazine : January 2008
· Bert and Ernie are old enough to be their parents. · They've never heard Howard Cosell call a game on Monday Night Football. · Computers have always been small enough to put in backpacks. · Madden is a videogame, not a Superbowl-winning coach. · Text messaging is their e-mail; they've never snail-mailed a personal letter. · Rabbit ears on your TV are a crude way to increase reception. · They don't remember when coffee came in one flavor, and the serving size did not include Utall or grande." · They have only known two presidents. · Google has always been a verb. · Turntables are only for rap music. · 33, 45 and 78 are lottery numbers not speeds for vinyl records. · Mr. Rogers, not Walter Cronkite, has always been the most trusted man in America. · Television stations have never con- cluded the broadcast day with the National Anthem. · Pixar has always existed and American Motors has never existed. · Cars have always had eye-level brake lights, CD players, air bags and cup holders. · The evil empire has moved from Moscow to a setting in u a galaxy far, far away." The goal of this article is to help the printing industry learn to appreciate the differences between the generations and find some means of working that will suit both the work ethic as well as the communication styles of all. Why? Recent human resource surveys find some 60 percent of employers are already reporting generational conflicts at the workplace. The printing industry, with its constant need for employees, and a general shortage of skilled workers, must understand where this new workforce is coming from so it can compete for these workers, and most importantly, retain them as employees. To that end, companies need to edu- cate their staff on the importance of their human assets, including generational is- sues with the same attention they would stress press maintenance. Historically, each generation seems to dismiss the PLANTS & PROCESSES strengths of others instead of acknowl- edging, embracing and utilizing their abilities. With that I can interject that the Y-ers, on the whole, are great individuals once you learn to look at them from an- other point of view. THE GENERATIONS A brief overview of the current genera- tions in the workplace can give a pro- spective of where we've been and where we are heading. The first and the oldest generation in the current workforce are the Traditionalists. Although many are now retired, they have certainly had a major influence on our workplace. Born between 1925 and 1945 they are about 75 million in number and their defin- ing events include the Great Depression and World War II. Their preferred form of communication is formal but they are also known for their strong interpersonal skills. They need to be respected for all they have done and for all their work ex- perience and expertise. They firmly be- lieve that rewards come from tenure and that you work your way to the top. Their strengths include attention to detail and a keen sense of financial responsibility. Next are the Baby Boomers (odds are you are one), born between 1946 and 1964. They are 80 million in num- bers and their defining events include Women's rights, Vietnam, the youth rebellion and of course Rock-n-Roll. A Boomer's favorite form of communica- tion is the meeting, where topics can be discussed thoroughly before action is taken. Part of the objective of these meetings is to form relationships-it's all about who you know. Boomers have a strong need for recognition for all the work they do, for all their accomplish- ments. Who they are is directly tied to what they do. The first question a Boomer asks in an introduction is, uAnd what do you do?" Their mind set is to live to work-they measure worth by the number of hours you work. Boomers all but invented the 60-hour workweek. Their biggest strength is that they will do whatever it takes to accomplish a task to the point of sacrificing everything else in their lives. The final pre-Y Generation group is the X-generation. Now fully integrated into the workforce, the X-ers were born www.f I exog ra p hy.o rg between 1965 and 1980. They are the smallest generation numbering 46 mil- lion. Their defining events include the first generation to experience a signifi- cant increase in their parents divorce rate and many faced an economic downturn just as they entered the job market. Their favorite form of communication is just about any form as long as it gets straight to the point; they do not want to spend a great deal of time discussing an issue. One of the top needs of the X-er is a work/life balance. They value control over their time and how it's spent. They enjoy work but do not want it to control their lives (a difficult task with the demands of today's graphic communication arena). Their mindset is to take care of uN o. 1" first. This stems from entering the work- force at a time when jobs were often hard to find. So, they look out for themselves before they worry about the company. Their biggest strength is their ability to work unsupervised. Tell me the task, tell me when you need it and I'll get it done. In the meantime leave me alone. On the other hand, they understand the customs of a company and the structure laid forth from the previous generations. Which brings us to the new kids on the block-the Generation Y. They were born between 1980 and 2002 and number around 80 million; most of which are still in school. The defining events are being members of the first ever child-centered society and a complete emersion in digital technology. Their communica- tion style is anything that is instant. They don't understand having to wait for an answer, for feedback or inter- action. For them, even e-mail is too slow. Electronics are so important ... - to them that they...... .....' ..... are the only gen- eration to name an electronics store as one of their top five places to shop. One ofY-ers' main needs is recogni- tion of what they do and contribute. They have abilities and skills and they want people to acknowledge they are not com- ing into the workplace green (in their minds). They want their work to have ": . .... -=- ..- 2008 - JANUARY FLEXO