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Taking a close look at multiple generations in today's workplace

Cascio discusses ideas for bridging the gaps

11/7/2012
Wayne Cascio speaks on the different generations at work
By Amanda Heersink | University Communications

​DENVER and AURORA, Colo. - There currently are four very different generations in American workplaces. It's a situation that has never happened before. From the silent generation of the 1930s and 1940s to the millennials born after 1980, certain characteristics and challenges define how the generations handle situations.

Today, Wayne Cascio, professor of Management at the University of Colorado Denver Business School discussed "Generations at Work" during a brown bag lunch presentation on the downtown Auraria Campus, which was also teleconferenced to the Anschutz Medical Campus.

Deborah Makray, staff council and office manager for the Executive MBA program opened the program by introducing Cascio as “one of the shining stars of the business school.” 
 
To gain a better understanding workplace colleagues, Cascio talked about the importance of finding things that work for people of all generations. He said, “There are two main things that everyone can agree on regardless of their generation. First, all generations have similar values -- they just express it differently and second, everyone wants respect -- they just want respect for different things.”

The four generations that Cascio defined as being currently in the workplace are the 'silent generation' representing those born between 1930 and 1945, the 'baby boomers' born between 1946 and 1964, 'generation X' born between 1965 to around 1980 and 'generation Y' born after 1980 to about 2000. “The years that are in the later generations are not always concrete,” Cascio noted.

One main frustration observed in workplaces with multiple generations, Cascio described is the difference between the generation’s struggles and strengths. “Gen Y is very strong in technology but their work ethic can be perceived as not as strong,” Cascio noted.

A suggestion Cascio offered to ease the gap between the different generations is ‘generational intelligence’ which is less about age and more about adaptability to different people.

In a study done by CISCO and Future Work Place, researchers discovered that flexibility is one of the biggest driving factors in getting and keeping employees. 
Cascio talked about a case study he worked on with the company Ernst & Young. During today's presentation he shared a video highlighting the work.

Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young Jim Turley, spoke about making his company a more flexible working environment. “I would rather have a great person 75 percent of the time rather than zero percent of the time,” Turley said.

Overall there were five main points to take away from the idea of having a flexible workplace. “You must realize flexibility is a two way street -- you have to have communication from both sides,” said Cascio, “The leader needs to be the one to initiate the conversation and you must develop a ‘contract’ of flexibility. Using team calendars is also very helpful and you must be aware that people will be watching the leader’s behavior.”

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