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Upon doing numerous surveys, more and more human resources departments discovered that there is a definite need for employees to understand the thinking differences between younger and older staff members. Ms Elmarie Pretorius from The Mindspa Institute, a soft skills training company, presents the XYZ Generations programme on a monthly basis to corporates understanding that respect needs to be on all levels in the workforce.

Employees will work better together if they understand each other. Developing the skills of management and staff members is supposed to be a top priority in all industries. It is the people who make the company. If everybody has a sense of respect for one another and understands that people of various age groups are merely different, it is easier to adapt communication and actions accordingly so that situations can be dealt with in a correct manner.

Ms Pretorius typically begins such a session with a quick overview of what will be discussed, making everyone feel comfortable with lightly joking remarks. She goes on to explain that generation X came after the Baby Boomers. The Boomers are people born during 1946 to 1964. They experienced a world in a time of hardship with the war, but thanks to sudden economic rises many only settled into their retirement with a lot more comfort than the generation before them.

The X generation, born between 1960’s and 1980’s, are regarded as being too young to have fought any major wars but old enough to earn a decent living. In their days they started a job and stuck with it for 30-40 years. They were taught by the boomers that to get a stable job was hard and that they should do everything to keep it, work hard and earn a living to care for their families. They were perceived as being a very money-responsible generation.

When speaking about generation Y, also known as the Millennials born 1980-2000, most of the staff can relate. This generation is very comfortable sharing their entire life online. Previous generations regard them as selfish and self-regarding. Even their catch phrase is “let’s take a selfie”. Their job satisfaction depends on if they like what they are doing and not necessarily the money. Generalizations are made but Ms Pretorius poses the question: “Who raised them to be this way? Obviously the generation X before them, so why play the blame-game?”

Throughout training sessions, such as the XYZ Generations Programme, a lot of respect issues and questions arise. The Y generation wants to know why it is disrespectful to try and help the X generation in for example understanding the latest technology. They feel like they are trying to assist and make life easier, while the X generation feel like they have always done it in a certain way, and that the younger generation does not have the necessary experience to tell them what to do! Ms Pretorius explains then to the Y generation: “It might not be what you are saying but how you are approaching the person and how you are saying it or coming across.”

As she goes on to explain, she listens to the attendees and debate the reasons and solutions. She exclaims that all the differences should not be seen as negatives but merely that everyone was brought up differently and in different times. Concluding to say that every generation thinks that the next generation will amount to nothing, but on the contrary every next generation accomplishes a lot.

“I understand how my manager thinks now”, one employee says. HR departments are making huge efforts to boost moral within the workplace with this Generations Programme. Through training management on these issues, they understand how to retain their talented young employees and how bridging the generation gap can assist them in a better internal communication flow.