University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources

Generations in the Workforce

by Dee Anne Bonebright, Consultant
Organizational Effectiveness, Office of Human Resources

After our recent snowstorm, I was talking to a friend who works in building and grounds for a major Twin Cities organization. He said that 40% of their equipment operators are eligible for retirement within the next five years—a poor demographic for chopping ice and blowing heavy snow!

That conversation brought home the results of our changing workforce. Here at the University, we are facing large numbers of retirements and an increasing number of young people moving into leadership positions. This has major effects on how we do our work.

For the first time in history, there are four generations in the workplace at the same time. Each group has its own set of work, career, and life values. This can lead to potential miscommunication and lack of understanding about work expectations. On the other hand, it can also lead to a vital and productive workplace as people learn to work well together.

As managers and coworkers, we need to understand each other’s concerns and recognize the unique contributions we all bring to the workplace. The articles below provide a good place to start.