This article is the result of an exchange of opinions with Bocconi University Professor Gabriella Bagnato
In different enterprises, but above all in medium to big companies, collaborators and employees are of different age, have different experiences, and different approaches to work. Each generation has specific characteristics that distinguish it from the other: the “baby boomers” from 50 to 68 years old, the generation X, those born between 1965 and 1980, Generation Y or Millennials born from the 80s until year 2000.
So, for the first time, companies have to manage people that belong to the generations that differ in contrasting job concepts, working relationships and private life, being “united” by very heterogeneous themes. For example, younger people have a different perception of authority that comes from their relationship with parents and school: they struggle to recognize the differences of power, do not understand the sense of the vertical pattern and hierarchical corporate structures, that, in some cases, weakens their capacity to collaborate in a functional manner.
These dissimilarities impose to understand the specificity, to form the appreciation of differences, in order to find later the right management methods able to establish the correct leverage that balances people who belong to different generations.
Even the personnel management policies should, therefore, refer to well-established principles of marketing, by determining the different target audience, that is, to segment the internal customer according to individual specificities and characteristics. The problem is to integrate all this knowledge within the organizational structure of the company. The manager’s task is far from being easy, he should identify and then manage, through his relational capabilities, the resources available, taking into account differences in terms of needs, expectations and aspirations of each one of them, harmonizing the different ideal visions so that they can functionally find the most suitable placement within the organization.
Moreover, not to underestimate is also the value of the company’s brand, that is the need to balance, among other things, the reputation and corporate identity, as a coagulant and fundamental element, where employees can recognize themselves despite their ideological differences and, that, if properly used, is able to attract and keep talents.
To sum up, those who work in HR, in the view of generational differences should carry out fairly sophisticated cultural operation, trying to invest in the value of the company’s brand like the instrumental quality of work, remuneration, type of contract, tasks, career prospects, etc., because it is positioned on a higher, regarding other aspects, level, and try to understand, in the best possible way, the coherence between values and organizational norms and principles of people.