With four generations in the workplace, there are vastly different definitions of what it means to have a good work ethic. Don’t avoid the tensions; get your team talking about these questions:
- Does it matter how many hours you work if you get your work done?
- Do you have to come in to the office, or can you work from someplace else?
Awkward silence might follow at first, but that’s okay. It’s important for teams to spend some time understanding the generational differences around work ethic by finding the common need – and that need is fairness and balance. No one wants to feel cheated or taken advantage of, and everyone wants more balance in life. Unless older generations understand the reasons why GenXers and Millennials view work ethic differently, they’ll continue seeing them as “slackers.” In the same way, the younger generations must seek to understand Traditionalists and Boomers by learning about the world in which they grew up.
Think of work like a meal: the older two generations see work as the steak and everything else in life as the side dishes. The younger two generations see life as more of a waffle, where work is one quadrant and everything else makes up the other three squares. (So please, boss, keep your work syrup off the other three squares of my waffle.)