According to the World Health Organization, women who are healthy at 60 will be physically capable of working until 77. Studies from PEW show that 40% of Baby Boomers have no plans to retire at 65. Thus, there will be five generations of employees in the workplace at the same time. According to the book, The 2020 Workplace, the work environment will include an intensely personalized social experience to attract, develop, and engage employees across generations and geographies. They will do so by instituting innovative human practices by first defining an authentic core set of organizational values and augmenting them by leveraging the latest tools in social media to reimagine leadership, development, and talent management.
Innovations in technology continue to speed up. It took radio 38 years, television 13 years, the internet 4 years, iPods 3 years, and Facebook 2 years to reach 50 million American households. The Millennials, those born between 1977 and 1997, grew up with technology as part of their everyday lives. They are also known as Generation Google, Digital Natives, Gen Y and the Net Generation. Thus, employees are carrying their own communication platforms with them – laptops, iPods, iPads, flash drives, mobile phones, etc. Because of this, 2020 workplace employees will no longer struggle with work-life balance as the traditional and baby boomer generations did. Instead, they have ‘weisure’. Weisure is a combination of work and leisure and refers to the increasingly blurred line between work and fun. Family friends, and coworkers are constantly in touch with each other about work and non-work issues. If the 1990s were the ‘e’ decade, e-books, e-learning, e-libraries, etc., the 2020 will be known as the ‘s’ decade, the social media, social learning, and social networking decade.
Traditionalists and Baby Boomers use social technology too. It’s not just for the Millennials. There are more people aged over 50 on Facebook, than Millennials. Traditionalists have seen a lot of change in their lives – since the end of World War II, they’ve seen the first credit card (1946), color television (1950), personal computer (1981), first mobile phone (1987), the World Wide Web (1991), and Google (1998). They are comfortable using technology. Generation Xs, born between 1965 and 1976, grew up as independent thinkers and expecting work/life balance. They are most similar to Millennials in how they use technology. Millennials are digitally confident. They easily share photos, text their friends, post messages on the Facebook wall, and watch YouTube videos…sometimes all at once.
Millennials are in a hurry for success. They want the freedom to get their education anywhere they want. Many choose their phone for education. Millennials are asking their employers for education in ‘life skills’ as well as technical skills. They expect their employers to provide them with access to the social networks. They demand to be kept informed, ‘plugged in’. They want to feel empowered, valued, engaged, and trusted at work. They practice extensive freedom of speech and are very candid, but not very politically savvy.
Reference: Meister, J. C. & Willyerd, K. (2010) THE 2020 WORKPLACE: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today. New York: Harper Collins Publications