What do most millennials agree on?

The Viking Blog

In the German offices, five generations meet at one workplace for the first time. One can imagine that conflicts are preprogrammed, which represent a great challenge for companies and managers. Therefore, together with the opinion research institute OnePoll, we surveyed 1,000 German employees to find out how employees of different generations work together, which conflicts arise and what is most important. Since around a third of the survey participants are managers, we were also able to find out how they deal with the generations in the office.

Klaudia Lux, an expert in the field of mediation and coaching, also has tips on how to best resolve the generation conflict so that the personnel files do not receive a negative entry.

 

 

One office, five generations - great potential for conflict

In five generations, many different life experiences, expectations and desires come together, which were shaped by wars, political and economic developments and new technologies.
For our study we worked with the following generations:

Silent generation

(74-91 years)

Baby boomer

(55-73 years)

Generation X

(39-54 years)

Millennials

(23-38 years)

Generation Z

(22 years and younger)

 

With such a large age range, one wonders to what extent the generations really work together. Two-thirds of all respondents have daily contact with Millennials and Generation X, who now make up a large part of the working population. Around 44% also deal with Generation Z and Baby Boomers every day, and one in four works with the silent generation on a daily basis.

Conflicts - who has a row with whom

This is where conflicts begin, because almost a quarter of those questioned feel that working with the oldest generation is negative. The youngest generation also seems to be prone to conflicts - almost a quarter have had negative experiences with Generation Z.

The biggest points of contention: work stance and power struggles

For more than a third of Generation Z, there are repeated conflicts about their work ethic. But even among millennials and the silent generation, around a quarter of all respondents feel that their work ethic has the potential for conflict. On the other hand, a third of the participants have power struggles with baby boomers and Generation X.

Interestingly, when it comes to the younger generations, men and women are pretty much in agreement. However, men of Generation X find working with older generations more negative than women. This is particularly the case when working with baby boomers: Almost every third man in Generation X does not enjoy working with the older generation, while this is the case for only half as many women.

Women of all generations have different problems with the Baby Boomers. After all, one in eight complains about stereotyping, but only half as many men have the problem.

Problem child generation Z

But when you look at who is arguing with whom, one thing above all stands out: with Generation Z, most of them still have to pull themselves together. Around a third of Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials have problems with the work ethic of the youngest employees. But they are not alone, more than a third (37%) of Generation Z quarrel with the work ethic of their peers. At least everyone agrees.

 

 

What motivates the Germans

To find out why that is so, we asked our study participants what they value most in a job. It was found that a secure job is important for 90% of baby boomers, and surprisingly just as many of the silent generation want professional development. The focus of the younger generations, on the other hand, is elsewhere: Generation X and millennials place particular emphasis on their salary (83% and 86%) and friendly colleagues (84% and 88%). Generation Z first and foremost needs passion for the job (84%). Autonomy is quite important for all generations. And what is also interesting: not even half (48%) of all respondents attach importance to incentives for employees (such as free snacks in the office or discounts) at their current workplace.

Our expert Klaudia Lux explains that every generation has its own way of working and communicating. The silent generation and baby boomers are used to communicating in person or by phone, and appreciation for their skills and respect for superiors is a matter of course for them.

The younger generations, however, are more relaxed: for Generation X, work is more of a means to an end in order to be able to lead a materially comfortable life, and when there is a conflict, there is no long talk about the bush. With Millennials and Generation Z, the hierarchies at work are becoming flatter, which is also reflected in the more colloquial communication that mainly takes place online. So it's no wonder that there is always friction between young and old.

Innovation and leadership skills - who can do what?

But it's not all bad, because every generation, with its peculiarities, has something positive to contribute to the working atmosphere or is particularly good at certain things.

qualities

Most likely embodied by

Work ethic

Quiet Generation - 33%

Expertise

Baby Boomers - 33%

leadership qualities

Generation X - 36%

Troubleshooting

Generation X - 31%

empathy

Generation X - 24%

friendliness

Generation X - 24%

innovation

Millennials - 25%

creativity

Millennials - 26%

 

Our expert Klaudia Lux knows: "Mixed-age teams are usually more efficient. Younger colleagues provide new ideas and dynamism in the team. They are also very familiar with the new technologies. Older employees, on the other hand, bring a lot of life and work experience.

The results of our survey confirm this: a third say that the silent generation and baby boomers can score points with their work ethic and the necessary knowledge, while millennials are considered innovative and creative by a quarter of those surveyed.

Around a quarter think that Generation X in particular is particularly friendly and empathetic. About a third, however, value their leadership skills and problem-solving skills. It seems that Generation X employees not only have the potential to become their favorite colleague, but also their favorite boss.

 

Communication is the key to success

Among the 1000 participants in the survey there were also 284 managers whose answers provided us with insights from the management level. Generation X seems to be exploiting the potential to become a favorite boss, as 43% of the managers surveyed belong to this generation. In addition, around a quarter are from the baby boomer generation and 3% are from the silent generation. So it seems that the majority of German managers (71%) are over 39 years old.

In general, Germans are also relatively satisfied with their managers, because 46% have the feeling that their manager looks after all generations equally well. Only about one in seven thinks that their own manager is more attentive to the younger or older generation.

But how do executives feel about managing so many generations? Almost a quarter of the managers are not very confident about the leadership of the two young generations.

However, only just under a fifth had specific training courses on the subject of “generational inclusion”. These included the most frequently mentioned training courses on “self-perception and the perception of others” (30%), “discrimination in the workplace” (28%) and “equality and diversity” (27%).

However, according to our study participants, inclusion does not have to be left to the line manager. Almost 41% think that their employer should offer coaching and mentoring for an integrative work environment for all generations.

 

 

Klaudia Lux recommends the following strategies for integration:

1. Appreciation for everyone

An essential task of the manager is to ensure a constructive cooperation between the generations. Each generation brings its own special experience. Nobody is better or worse just because they belong to a different generation.

 

2. Promote mutual understanding

The combination of old and new values, views and approaches, and traditional and modern knowledge enables companies to successfully achieve their goals.

 

3. Let each other talk

It would be important that the generations communicate a lot and very openly with one another. Mutual understanding breaks down prejudices and misunderstandings are eliminated.

Joint activities and shared experiences strengthen mutual understanding and promote communication.

 

4. Promote willingness to compromise

If everyone insists on their position, it is essential to approach and compromise. Compromises are often the best solution for the time being.

 

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Do you have any more tips on how to include generations in the workplace? Then share them with us on our Facebook page or on Twitter.