Generation X, Y and Z in our time | Daily News


Generation X, Y and Z in our time

As each generation readies itself to play a dominant role in the global economy, much is written and conjectured about the changes it will bring to the workplace and the global market. Certainly, the last three, Gen X, Y and Z, to use their more popular labels, have each been studied and analysed to an unprecedented extent by academics, businesspeople and policymakers. Are the differences they demonstrate just the expected generational changes or is there something special about each, in terms of the changes they bring to the workplace, to how technology can be optimised and to how leaders can be most effective.

One of the most visible generations in history, Gen Y has forced a new look at everything from Maslow’s need hierarchy to how companies do business and the future of the workplace. Growing up with unprecedented access to technology, they have changed everything from whether cars are best bought or shared, to how long it’s okay to live with parents and what kind of behaviour is acceptable from employees and leaders.

GEN Z: Poised to enter the workplace soon, this generation was born into a tumultuous world, demonstrated to them in all its VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) glory through a wide variety of screens. They fear for the future of the planet, value their education, worry about their future careers and want to make the world a better place. They are completely digitally native in the sense of being quite helpless in a non-digital world.

GEN X: Sandwiched between the baby boomers and the millennials, this generation has had two decades in the workplace. Quietly, they have taken up positions of power in multinational C- suites as well as in the ranks of successful entrepreneurs. They experienced childhoods without computers and witnessed the shift from analogue to digital Technology in their adulthoods. At work, they are taking over the mantle from the baby boomers and mentoring Gen Y. At home, they are caring for their boomer parents and also their millennial kids who refuse to leave home.

Today’s organisational culture

The workplace today is an intriguing blend of multi-generational values, approaches to technology, leadership styles and workplace preferences. Through these three generations, we seek to understand how each group can best be motivated, managed, led and encouraged to lead, for optimal results with the public service in Sri Lanka. The public sector in Sri Lanka has shown fewer tendencies on motivating the employees and leading them with a vision collectively. At present with the recruitment of employees in the generation y, z the organisational culture of the public sector and private sector is reshaping. However, the question lies whether they have the loyalty towards the organisation and the commitment to work.

Flexible work schedules

We’ve heard for over a decade that flexible work schedules and locations would become the norm. In 2003, the Guardian announced a “coming revolution in working hours” and virtual work was hailed a win-win for both employees and cost-conscious employers, but in truth, changes have come slowly and painfully. In recent years, some organisations are even reneging on flexible accommodation. Will the revolution ever materialise even in the private sector in Sri Lanka? The output and outcome of Sri Lankan employees have reduced drastically. There is zero consideration for facilitating roles for employment such as transportation, occupational health and insurance and training for competency building. In addition, employees are squeezed with daily hiking cost of living.

Sri Lankan employees in the public sector and private sector face many difficulties when they reach for work, at the workplace and after working hours. Employee relaxation hours has reduced, rather an exploitation of labour takes place each and every organisation from bottom to top layers of management.

Bringing about a transformation

Real-time information and feedback is the norm, as is the management of virtual teams across increasingly globalised organisations. But are the expectations of how technology should shape the future of the workplace similar across generations? How can the workplace be designed to integrate differing expectations for optimal recruitment, retention, development, and performance across levels and geographies in Sri Lanka? As the nature of work and the workplace evolves, both leaders and employees need to be engaged in bringing about a transformation that is productive, healthy and inclusive in the private and public sector in Sri Lanka.

Technological innovations are reshaping just about everything in our world today and the workplace is no exception. Cloud-based collaboration tools, workplace messaging platforms, wearable technologies, virtual reality, and so on, have changed the meaning of “going to work”. The employees and their managers now expect more flexibility of time and venue.

Many of the public sector organisations have a very slow transformation into management information systems especially provincial councils and rest of the local bodies. There are many untapped issues with the public sector especially matters affected to local communities.

Having considered the generations’ gap it’s the responsibility of the management of all the organisations in Sri Lanka to lead the organisations with a vision which the employee could feel and committed to achieving. 

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