Unfortunately, today’s society is more uncivil and unkind than I can ever remember.  It seems that people’s differences are being accentuated and instead of appreciating those differences and the richness they might bring to an organization or community, they are mocked and despised in many cases.

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In the workplace, there are now five different generations. Often times, the various generations do not appreciate each other.  Boomers complain about Millennials and Millennials complain about Boomers.  Gen Xers probably complain about both the Boomers and the Millennials, while I suspect Gen Zs do not know what to make of it all.

The term “OK Boomer” is now commonplace and is meant to put down and make fun of the Boomer generation.  Of course, there have been many people who make a living off discussing the Millennial’s shortcomings and idiosyncrasies.  However, we would all be better off appreciating the strengths that each generation brings to the workplace.  Boomers have a wealth of knowledge and experience.  Every generation, throughout time, has thought it knew everything when they were young, including the Boomers.  However, as each generation ages it understands how little it knew when it was young.  The younger generations should learn from both the Boomers and the Silent generation who came before the Boomers.  Trust me, there is no substitute for experience!  The Xers, Millennials and Zers are wonderful at multi-tasking, utilizing technology and social media formats.  The older generations should appreciate and learn from them.  Effectively, there is a wonderful opportunity to have the generations cross mentor each other learning from each other, creating a better whole by elevating everyone.

Also, organizations are missing the mark by trying to distinguish between the generations.  This is divisive in my opinion.  Rather, organizations should focus on the commonalities of the generations and then structure themselves to support and encourage the commonalities.  So what are the commonalities?  All generations want to feel valued and appreciated.  All generations want to grow and advance their career.  All generations want to feel a part of an organization that is important in the lives of others.  And finally, all generations want to be proud of the organization where they are employed.  An HR, or other leader, who focuses on these generational commonalities and finds ways to ensure they are more than sufficiently met by their employer will be a superstar and work for a superstar organization.

For more information on this topic and the related legal issues, please visit the Haynsworth, Sinkler, Boyd blogpost, scemployersblog.com.  As always, Kelly and I appreciate you, our listeners and our fine sponsors, Haynsworth, Sinkler, Boyd and the Gallagher Companies!  Until next week,

Steve

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Steve Nail, JD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, RCC
Steve Nail is currently the Dean, College of Business, at Anderson University. He is a labor and employment attorney who began his career with the National Labor Relations Board. Thereafter, he served as Assistant General Counsel for Michelin, including two stints in France, where he worked on the structuring of the European Economic Community and served in the HR and Legal Departments. Later he served as the Vice President of Labor and Employee Relations before moving on to Hubbell where he served as the Vice President of Human Resources. Steve was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to serve on the SC Healthcare Planning Committee and was reappointed by Governor McMaster in 2018. Steve was named the 2012 South Carolina HR Professional of the Year and awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, by the Greenville SHRM chapter. He is a frequent speaker, a published author, and mentor to many in the HR profession. He often coaches individuals and consults organizations on strategic matters. He is a Register Corporate Coach, certified by the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches and holds SPHR and SHRM-SCP certifications.