The workplace is filled with all kinds of employees who have different personalities and traits. People from every race, religion, sex and political affiliation are often brought together by their place of employment. In addition, a company’s staff also consists of employees from multiple generations including Baby Boomers, Generation X and now, Generation Y (also known as “Millennials”). Over the last few years, “generational gaps in the workplace” has been a hot topic and the subject of many studies and articles.
Until recently, the insurance industry has consisted primarily of employees from the Baby Boomer generation. As time evolves and companies become more reliant on technology and social media for success and efficiency, more members of Generation X and Y are being interviewed by insurance recruiters. This doesn’t mean Generation X and Y employees are more valued than Baby Boomers, but it does mean that it is advantageous for Generation X and Y employees/candidates to be cognizant of the generational gaps that do exist in the workplace. Being informed and prepared on how to be successful at bridging the generational gap in the office will only help Generation X and Y candidates land, maintain and succeed in those great insurance jobs.
If you’re unsure of how generational differences may play out in the workplace, here are some example scenarios and tips on how best to approach them:
1. Phone Call or Meeting vs. Email or Text– Although email has been used as a professional and efficient way to communicate for several decades, there is great value in a phone conversation or face-to-face meeting. Members of Generation X or Y have grown up in a world of immediate responses while Baby Boomers grew up on the belief that taking time to build and sustain relationships meant everything. It is important to know that even if something can be accomplished faster via email or text, a meeting or phone call may be more suitable for certain situations. Being able to determine the best communication platform with your Baby Boomer colleagues will help you form better working relationships. Also, as texting becomes the latest communication trend, keep in mind that it is relatively new for Baby Boomers and may be the least preferred communication forum. It is crucial for Generation X and Y employees to be open to verbal communication and to know which form of communication is preferred by colleagues in various situations.
2. Use of Social Media Websites-There is no doubt that social media plays a huge role in everyday life for many people. Most of the world uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or is at least aware that these sites exist. Although most members of Generation X and Y find social media to be incredibly advantageous and entertaining, it’s important to note that Baby Boomers may not feel the same way. Again, this technology has not always existed during their career and has possibly caused their work responsibilities and style to change in a big way. In most cases, Baby Boomers are just as excited as Generation X and Y to talk about the exciting things happening in their personal lives, but may not be comfortable sharing that information with the thousands of people it can now reach through social media. It is also important make an effort to build and sustain Boomer relationships on more than just a social media level. In some instances, that may require a Generation X and Y employee to avoid posting photos or even discussing your most recent social media update while working. Many Baby Boomers have a more traditional view on work place conduct and may feel updating Facebook or posting a photo on Instagram is not an appropriate task to be conducted during work hours.
3. Work Style and Environment-Members of every generation know that hard work pays off, but work style, approach and environment may differ greatly. The Baby Boomer generation may be used to a more traditional office setting with a quiet, organized, neutral-toned work space where they can concentrate on the task at hand. Generation X and Y employees may find a more colorful, creative-conscious and lively atmosphere inspires their best work. For example, a Generation X and Y employee may find that listening to music through ear buds or using colorful office supplies and décor helps them do their best work, but a Baby Boomer may see those things as off putting or distracting. If you are a Generation X or Y, you should be conscious of these possible opinions and respect different work methods and environment preferences by knowing when to use these items appropriately.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to the varying work styles in a multi-generational office environment. Being mindful of the different preferences of your colleagues in every generational group will help you be successful when seeking great insurance jobs. With Baby Boomers still playing such a major role in the insurance industry, companies are looking for candidates who are aware of this and can adapt easily.