Training and Development is currently developing curriculum to five different generations in the workforce today. This trend will continue until the last of the Baby Boomers exit the workforce in the year 2030. Baby Boomers have a unique look at the current corporate landscape. It would be surprising if they or someone they know did not experience a downsizing or layoff. This generation is a generation that is loyal, sometimes to a fault, and will stay with a company until the organization decides that they are no longer delivering results or that costs need to be cut. Companies have been known to cut employees in their forty’s or later to avoid more costly healthcare and paying out pensions in the upcoming years.
Baby Boomers understand the top down leadership approach to management and when change happens they are typically slow to embrace it and at times exhibit a jaded and cynical approach. The Baby Boomers witnessed many career transitions in their work lives. If they were a part of a reorganization then they would have reinvented themselves through either taking a similar role with less compensation to regain employment, re-visit furthering education or even completing a degree. Some Baby Boomers will even take on two or more positions to make up for lost wages.
The Baby Boomer generation appears to be more reserved in their approach in business settings and at times will be on the sidelines. Baby Boomers prefer to learn with a traditional instructor led course or a self paced option. Education is valued and they will ensure their children understand the importance to maintain the competitive edge. This generation will chose to self educate to keep learning. Baby Boomers are workaholics and they will continue to work until the task is done and done correctly. At times they will work harder but not smarter like the generations that follow them. Technology has been challenging for some Baby Boomers as they learn from others in the workforce how to work within social media, internet research and various computer programs to complete their tasks.
Human Resource professionals have recognized the challenges with training and development and because of that they understand the need to have a generational diversity management process. New and existing employees of all ages undergo orientations, trainings and work group meetings daily. Trainers in the Human Resources field need to understand the dominant personal traits for each generation, their values, and how their preferred approach would be to getting work done. The Baby Boomers generation values work as a very important part of their life and will give you 110% every day. They struggle with fitting in at times and will try to catch on to the new buzz words to stay relevant. The Baby Boomers may not ask questions in a group setting but choose to wait until there is a break and ask the instructor one on one so as not to embarrass them in a group setting. They realize that they are different from the other workforce but try hard to find something in common to stay connected with others. Training materials need to fit a variety of learners. No longer is there a one size fits all mentality in regards to delivery.
To add to the challenges of the Human Resource professionals, medical research has proven that mental capacities decrease. Short-term memory and processing new information slows down as we age making the need for trainers to conduct a person analysis to include all generations. Readiness training can assist training leaders to ensure they have the appropriate content to achieve the current levels of performance desired.
In order to gain a complete understanding of generational diversity in the workforce many universities are attacking this topic in the classroom. Many sociology, psychology, business and human resource classes are all expressing the need to rethink staff management strategies and methods. Competency modeling and needs assessments will assist leaders in their understanding of the diverse landscape in the workforce today. Sensitivity training for leaders with direct reports in this multigenerational workforce is ongoing in many corporations. It allows the leaders to identify different outlooks, new communication methods and recognize work-life balance offerings.
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