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Generational changes that occur on the job market are a standard phenomenon, always visible in the demographic background. The different generations in society also have their own characteristic terms, such as Millennials, generation X, Y, and Z. The differences between them are not only age and experience, but also the way they communicate, their priorities, their system of working and acting. The period in which they have matured and gained work experience has shaped them so much that their expectations are also significantly different. This is also a hint for entrepreneurs, who at the stage of searching for employees for a given position, should first find out what generation the candidate represents.

Intergenerational differences

The three most popular generations that we can talk about in view of the job market situation are generations X (40-50-60 year old), Y (30 year old) and Z (20 year old). The approach to work among these generations and the differences can be seen with the naked eye. The “Xs” are people who grew up in the face of political changes, therefore work has always meant stability and security for them, and they would prefer to stay with one employer for longer (if not until retirement). The “Ys” currently represent the most numerous group present on the contemporary job market. Almost every second of them can boast a university diploma, and the moment of their intellectual development coincided with the time of innovations and new media, as well as the blurring of boundaries which so far seemed permanent, if not impossible to cross. Finally, the “Zs” are the generation born since the mid-1990s, who are just entering or have recently entered the job market. They are characterized by being constantly online, and the Internet is almost their third hand. They have mostly grown up in prosperity and political stability.

How to take advantage of intergenerational differences on the job market?

The differences we point out do not have to divide the generations, but actually unite them. Age diversification in a team can do a lot of good, due to complementary competencies and experience. It can also positively influence intergenerational dialogue and unite through shared values, goals, and passions.

The research shows that the biggest disruption in the way of communication in the job market takes place between generations X and Z. The youngest employees often have very high requirements, and experience that is much lower than their older colleagues. Therefore, the way of communication should be adjusted here as well in order to work out a system allowing employees from each generation to comply with work orders and respect authority. All this is possible, but because of the significant differences, some people need more feedback.

Defining company goals and ways of communicating with each other will be crucial in developing the best relationships within the group. For the youngest generation, sending an SMS informing about a disease is something standard, but if it is sent to an entrepreneur representing generation X, a certain distaste may arise. In this case, it is necessary to set the rules at the beginning of cooperation in order to simply avoid such situations.

Listening to vs hearing the needs

For intergenerational collaboration to be successful, it is essential to hear the needs of the team. Why do we distinguish between these two words, listen and hear? To listen can be with one ear and out the other. To hear means to acknowledge and do something about it. If the needs communicated by the team are not understood by the employer, it is enough to start a dialogue. Meeting them is necessary for maintaining harmony, even if they seem completely illogical in the case of a generation gap. Getting to know the point of view of people representing different generations can bring enormous benefits to the company - as everyone looks from a completely different perspective, taking into account the point of view of different age and social groups.

Tensions and misunderstandings

Although it doesn’t seem so, use of knowledge about the differences between generations and the characteristics they represent also proves very useful in tense situations. The ability to look at things through the eyes of the other party will make it possible to smooth over or resolve certain ambiguities. Remember that while you learn experience and humility from the oldest generation, you learn foreign languages and modern technologies from the youngest. Sharing knowledge and cooperation between generations, as well as appropriate management of a team of different ages can contribute to the company’s great success.

However, there are exceptions. Not every representative of a given generation represents its specific characteristics. The date of birth can be a kind of a guide here, but it is not the date that determines an employee’s involvement in their professional activity, but their character and disposition.