At this year’s BAI Retail Delivery Conference in Las Vegas, we were greeted with many flashing lights, and flashy marketing strategies and technology for bankers. One theme we heard throughout the show was the impact of generational differences in the work environment. Best-selling author and generational expert Cam Marston was one of the keynote speakers at the conference, and he shed a great deal of light on this phenomenon.  Mr. Marston is the leading expert on the impact of generational change and its impact on the marketplace. 

In studying generations, it has been observed that baby boomers are entering retirement with more debt than any other prior generation. Due to this debt, baby boomers are delaying retirement, and as a result, many Generation X workers are not having the opportunity to move up the corporate ladder. 

Each generation of workers has different priorities in the workplace.  The mature generation and baby boomers value the history of the organization they work for and the name recognition of the organization in the community.  Generation X focuses on how things will affect their lives, how things will make them distinct, and how the organization will impact their future. 

Baby Boomers like to share the wisdom with the next generation and they place a key value on their work place identity.  Baby boomers also think of themselves as rebels 15 years younger than their actual age.  In contrast, Generation X researches and talks considerations out prior to making decisions.  They’ll use whatever technology is available and mention long-term gain but sell short-term solutions.  These two groups also have distinct management skills.  Baby boomers like to have weekly team meetings while Generation X prefer to delegate responsibilities to their staff without micromanaging their efforts.  These two diverse management styles sometimes are not the best environment for Millennials to thrive in the work environment. 

Employers and managers need to understand the attitudes and expectations of each of the four generations so they can best work with each. The days of “treat everyone the same” are no longer with us, but understand how we can relate ourselves across all of the generations will be key for some companies to be successful.

The jury is much still out on the impact millennials are having in the marketplace. Another event I’m excited about is a webinar this week with Mintel Comperemedia on retail banking trends, and specifically how bank marketing is resonating with Millennials. I’ll definitely be there!