Over the last several decades, a shift has been taking place inside the workplace. What has been occurring is that there are different generations in the labor force that are working together side by side. This has led to transformation in the focus and values that each generation embraces the most. In the case of the Baby Boomers and Generation X, these differences are quite clear. To fully understand these contrasting values and ideas requires examining modernism along with post modernism as it relates to the workplace. At which point, we will focus on the workplace generational gap between: the Baby Boomers and Generation X Once this occurs, it will provide the greatest insights as to the overall differences between the two the generations in the labor force and how they are impacting the work environment.
Modernism and Post Modernism as it Relates to the Workplace
The Baby Boomers and Modernism
In the workplace, there are two different viewpoints that are most common among the different demographics of workers. This is based on their underlying perceptions of their role and the impact that they are having. In the case of the Baby Boomers, they are taking more of a modernist viewpoint of this relationship. This is when they are embracing the ideal and insights about what was most common at the time of their upbringing (i.e. The mid-20th century). As, they embraced a number of different values that were present within society at the time in: relation to the employer -- employee relationship. To include: remaining loyal to their employers, working hard, sacrificing themselves for the good of the company and receiving generous compensation packages for this dedication that they were exhibiting. ("Modernism," 2011) (Walton, 2009, pp. 148 -- 152)
The Baby Boomers are embracing the ideals from the previous generations of workers that grew up during and before World War II. In this case, anyone who had a job working for an organization was considered to be lucky. Part of the reason for this, is because of the mindset that was instilled from their parents. As, they have been through the Great Depression when the available supply of workers was high and the number of good jobs was scarce. Once the economy began to boom, during the time that this generation was growing up in: the 1950's and 1960's they saw the full effects of this kind of loyalty. Where, employees who were willing to go the extra mile for their employers were given greater financial rewards. Those individuals' who were willing to sacrifice themselves, saw considerably more benefits in comparison with someone who did not exhibit this kind of loyalty.
A good example of this can be seen with observations from Lund (2011). She found that these factors were the most influential in shaping how the Baby Boomers would view the employer -- employee relationship. As she found that, "Baby Boomers came of age in a work environment where if you stayed with a company a certain length of time, you would be promoted. This was accepted, and even if someone excelled at work there was an understanding of doing one's time. The Boomer Generation shared: a set of ideals, rules formed around them and people followed these practices." (Lund, 2011, pg. 183).
This is significant, because it is showing how the Baby Boomers are embracing the modernist ideals of the 20th century. As they believed; that working for a particular employer would lead to larger rewards down the road. This led to increased amounts of loyalty among this demographic, where they were willing to sacrifice more time with their families to see an improvement in their careers. At the same time, they demanded that they should receive increased monetary compensation and other benefits for going the extra mile for a corporation.
Generation X and Post Modernism
While many of the Generation X workers; embraced a much different approach in comparison with these individuals. In this case, they were focused on more of a post modernism view of the workplace and the impact that is having on the relationship between employers and employees. This is when they were taking into account the more liberal viewpoints of the time frame that these individuals were growing up during the 1970's and 1980's. As, they were seeing how this traditional relationship had changed with: employees demanding that their employers offer them greater amounts of flexibility. This is different from the modernist view that many Baby Boomers are embracing. Instead, this generation wants to have greater amounts of freedom in determining their own personal lives and there is no loyalty towards a particular employer. In exchange for greater amounts of freedom, these individuals are not concerned about their overall compensation. What they want is a better quality of life in comparison with other generations. ("Post Modernism," 2011) (Walton, 2009, pp. 148 -- 152)
Part of the reason for this, is because Generation X was raised during a time when there were periods of great social upheaval and liberation within society itself. This shaped their views about society along with the employer -- employee relationship. Evidence of this can be seen by looking no further than, observations from Idea Health and Fitness (2003). They found that many of these kinds of issues were having an impact on what Generation X is demanding from their employers. Where, they experienced several different recessions, saw the first hand effects of corporate downsizing and the decline of the stock market. These different factors shaped who they would become, as this generation is focused on a survivor type of mentality vs. loyalty to their employers. As a result, they are demanding a more flexible work environment including: telecommuting, greater amounts leisure time with their family and child care. As, opposed to doing whatever it takes for them to be able to move up quickly through the corporate ladder. (Idea Health and Fitness, 2003, pp. 72 -- 81)
These different elements are significant, because they are showing how there has been a change in the way Generation X is viewing the workplace. In this case, the events that occurred during their lives shaped who they would become and way they viewed the employer -- employee relationship. As a result, this has caused a different mindset to emerge with these workers, where they are demanding greater amounts freedom and autonomy in comparison with previous generations. This means that there is considerably less loyalty that they will have toward employers, with many of them looking at their current jobs as a stepping stone to something bigger.
At the same time, Generation X is more technologically savvy in comparison with the Baby Boomers. This is because they were the first generation of children to experience computers in the classroom. Then, having both parents working outside of the home meant that they were often entertained through different video games that were being introduced. Over the course of time, this caused them to become more technologically advanced in comparison with previous generations. For employers, this is a benefit because this generation of workers can easily adapt to changes in technology and they understand a number of different concepts. (Rowe, 2011, pg. 6)
This is significant, because it is illustrating how many of the Generation X workers can be able to adapt to changes that are taking place because of advances in technology. This is because they have a basic background that can be adapted to a variety of IT solutions. At which point, they can be able to work independently with less supervision in comparison with the Baby Boomers. As a result, this is another example of how this generation is embracing post modernism ideals, by using the skills that they learned at a young age to help them when they are older.
The Workplace Generation Gap between the Baby Boomer and Generation X
A generational gap is defined as a difference in values between two different generations. As, they will embrace: contrasting values, ideas and in their outlook of the world. This is significant, because in the workplace there are clear differences between the Baby Boomers and Generation X The most notable differences can be seen in how each generation will look at the work environment and their role inside the organization. This is because both were born at different times in history. With the Baby Boomers, they are considered to be the Post World War II generation that was born between: 1946 and 1960. In general, this segment of the population accounts for 76 million people. (Kane, 2011) ("Baby Boomer Retirement," 2010) While Generation X are those individuals that are born between: 1965 and 1980. As, this demographic is accounting for: approximately 50 million people. (Walton, 2009, pp. 148 -- 152)
In the case of the Baby Boomers, they are embracing certain characteristics that are will affect these ideas. A few of the most notable include: they are loyal, have a good work ethic, are considered…