What do World War II and Y2K have in common? Not much you say? Well, think again! Next time you step in the door at your workplace, take a look at the people around you. Believe it or not, only a small percentage of today’s workforce remembers Germany’s decline after The Battle of the Bulge. That means you might have not one, two or three, but four generations currently working together. Here is a breakdown of the most common names for each age group:
• Traditionalists: 1925–1945
• Baby Boomers: 1946–1964
• Generation X: 1965–1981
• Millennials: 1982–2003
At Great Parks, we often have four generations working side by side. The biggest benefit to this is the breadth of experience, knowledge and creativity in one environment. This diversity also brings great differences, and these variations can either help a team thrive or tear it apart. I’ve found that the key to a successful relationship with neighboring generations is just making the effort to understand one another. Each generation expects to be treated a certain way according to their values. And if you do not know where someone is coming from, then it’s difficult to interpret their message or action as it was intended.
Millennials are the newest addition to the workplace, which adds an extra layer to the mix. Now, add them into a crew full of Traditionalists, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers and what do you get? Miami Whitewater Forest Operations team! This blend is not exclusive to Great Parks either; it is the new norm for today’s working population. And although it can be an adjustment for some, I prefer to see it as a very positive development. Learning more about those who work around you every day can break the generational barrier, allowing team members to pool their collective expertise and work together in harmony. Plus, empathizing and respecting others for who they are is a key skill we all need — both on and off the clock!
Tim DesJardin, Assistant Park Manager, Miami Whitewater Forest