Gen Off

the who

Enough already.  Just stop now.  It’s been said.  It is over.

What am I am complaining about?  All this never seemingly ending stream of generational stuff (or should that be guff?).  My journey with it all began at mildly interested following through to indifference, on to boredom and then parody.  I have now arrived at Extremely Irritated.

Yesterday evening I was browsing LinkedIn and clicked through to three articles.  Each one contained some generalisation about generations.  If this debate was even once worth having, then that time has come and very much gone.  I recently had a quiz highlighted to me on twitter, in which you could determine which generation you belonged to by answering questions including ‘do you have any tattoos?’ and ‘do you vote Conservative’.  When you have reached this level of debate then there is quite simply nowhere else to go.

I’ve blogged on this subject before, and so have others.  Check out a couple of pieces from Mervyn Dinnen’s excellent blog here:  I’m returning to the subject because it just won’t go away.  More than any other function I have seen, HR people give themselves a hard time.  We worry about whether we are strategic, at the top table, seen as quite so relevant as other key business functions.  This is a whole other debate, but what I will say, is that if you are a HR person, and if you are being influenced by this conversation, talking about it to your senior managers or trying to use it to make decisions then please, just don’t.  Stop.  Because it’s adding nothing to the party.  All we need to do is treat people according to their individuality.  Their age just isn’t that relevant.  Just like all the rest of their protected characteristics.  Offer choice and flexibility, treat people well and that will usually be enough.

So here is a revolutionary thought: this generation is different to the last.  The future of work and its workers will be different again; people will want different thing, have different challenges, needs, desires and wants and their own particular context.  It has always been so.  And it always will be.  The world changes fast, and work changes with it.  So prepare for it, but without making sweeping generalisations about people based on the year in which they were born.  It’s barely one step up from astrology.

Generations schmenertions.


Generation Blah

Am I alone in thinking that there is far too much being written about the differences between generations? Well I know I’m not completely alone as I know @TimScottHR and @HRtinker agree with me, as we have chatted about it on twitter.

Lots have been written about the generations. I’ll admit to sharing quite a bit of it myself. I was pretty interested in the whole concept when I first heard about it (years ago). Among lots of other things, we are told than Gen Y are different. They put their work life balance above pay and benefits. They are more interested in an organisation’s approach to CSR than any generation before them. Gen Z are going to be even more different still, apparently. As for what is coming after them, I’m not sure. I’ve seen references to Generation Facebook, Generation Connected; perhaps it will be like car registrations and we will start from the beginning of the alphabet again.

Are desires, wants and needs really that generation specific? I’m starting to think it might be just a little bit patronising to make such sweeping generalisations as those I have seen lately through a variety of articles, infographics etc. What is certain that in a few short years we will have five generations in the workplace, and we have to make space for the desires, demands and wants for every individual – without necessarily, in my view giving them labels, or indeed falling into the trap of pigeon holing anyone based on when they were born. Talent acquisition and retention, engagement and motivation will only be achieved by flexibility of approach.

But, perhaps it’s just my age……