Generational Cohorts: What are They and What are the Implications for Management?

Ms Kristin Lyon,
Prof Stephen Legg,
Associate Prof Paul Toulson
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The notion of "generation" as a way of understanding differences between age groups is widespread in society today. Members of a generation are linked through shared life experiences which create a bond tying members together in what has been termed "cohorts". Thus generational cohorts are groups of individuals who were born during the same time period and who experienced similar events during their formative years. These common life experiences create cohesiveness in values, attitudes and beliefs that result in a social character distinct to each generational cohort that are formed through socialization and remain relatively stable throughout the cohort's lifetime. Organisations are finding that the generational cohorts in today's workplace, (i.e. veterans, baby boomers, generation X and generation Y) expect organisations to be committed to creating a workplace which facilitates the inclusion of different social categories and enables everyone to contribute in their own way to the business. Traditional organisational policies and practices no longer meet the needs of these generational cohorts'. Therefore, organisations are increasingly expected to meet these needs through accommodation within organisational structures and through the development of new strategies that recognise the different generational cohort's values, attitudes and beliefs. A greater understanding of generational cohort differences will enable organisations to understand and minimize points of conflict and expectation mismatches and create solutions that will meet the needs of both employees and employers. Learning to value generational cohort diversity will help organisations to create a more productive and motivated workforce. Simply keeping within the current anti-discrimination legislation and expressing a wish to be "fair" will not be an option for organisations unless they wish to jeopardize their viability, profitability and competitiveness.

Keywords: Generational Cohorts, Diversity Management, Generation X, Generation Y, Baby Boomers, Veterans
Stream: Organisations
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Generational Cohorts

Ms Kristin Lyon

Human Resource Advisor, Human Resources, Royal New Zealand Plunket Society Inc. 
New Zealand

Kristin has worked for organisations in the Education, State and Not for Profit sectors as well as an HR consultant. Kristin has worked for organisations in the Education, State and Not for Profit sectors as well as an HR consultant. Kristin's experience includes Health and Safety, Remuneration, Industrial Relations, Recruitment and Retention, Performance Management, Change Management, and Management Development. Kristin completed her MA in Occupational Psychology at Massey University in Palmerston North in 1994. Kristin currently works as an HR Advisor and is passionate about generational cohort diversity and is working towards a Ph. D. in Human Resource Management in this area.

Prof Stephen Legg

Professor and Director, Centre for Ergonomics Occupational Safety and Health Human Resource Management Department College of Business , Massey University
New Zealand

Associate Prof Paul Toulson

Associate Professor and Head, Human Resource Management Department College of Business , Massey University
New Zealand

Ref: D05P0065