Recognise This! – Forcing an “understanding” of a group of people based on an arbitrary designation will lead to incorrect assumptions and disengagement.

 When you think of your workforce as a whole, how do you categorise them in your mind? By generation or by life stage?

A good deal of press and research seem to be devoted to “generations in the workplace” – GenY/Millennials expect ABC whereas Boomers prefer XYZ. I tend to fall in the other camp, though. As I wrote about a few months ago on Compensation Café:

Whether 26 or 46 years old, people with children tend to have more in common than singles of 26, and singles of 46. Comments I’ve received from readers are nearly universal in tone to this one:

I want recognition, not some fussy bonus thing once every year or two but simple, frequent ‘Thanks, that was great and it really mattered!’ I want to see some understanding that I have a life outside work that is more important to me than some new fancy title. I want to work where I'm not expected to check my personality at the door and be a cog. I want to get out of this silly face-time model and, as I did in a previous job, use social media for virtual presence so I can work from anywhere. I want to be treated like the trustworthy, professional, hard-working grownup that I am. I'm a 56 year old gen Y and agree with you that generations aren't so different. We're all changing together whilst leadership models aren't keeping up.”

Relying too strongly on “generational expectations” simply leads to a disconnect in expectations.

“Millennials” want meaningful work, high pay, and a sense of accomplishment for what they do. Is that very much different from what you want? It’s not for me.

Tell me – do you identify more with those of the same “generation” as you or those in the same “life-stage?” What are the most important factors to you at work?