The Multi-generational and Aging Workforce
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The Multi-generational and Aging Workforce

Challenges and Opportunities

Edited by Ronald J. Burke, Cary Cooper and Alexander-Stamatios Antoniou

The workforce is aging as people live longer and healthier lives, and mandatory retirement has become a relic of the past. Though workforces have always contained both younger and older employees the age range today has expanded, and the generational gap has become more distinct. This book advocates the need for talented employees of all ages as a way to prevent potential skill shortages and considers both the challenges and opportunities that these changes raise for individual organizations. The benefits they discuss include greater employee diversity with regards to knowledge, skills experience and perspectives, whilst challenges involve potential generational tensions, stereotypes and age biases. The book further places an emphasis on initiatives to create generation-friendly workplaces; these involve fostering lifelong learning, tackling age stereotypes and biases, employing reverse mentoring where younger employees mentor older employees, and offering older individuals career options including phased retirement, bridge employment and encore careers.
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Chapter 6: Millennials: who are they, how are they different, and why should we care?

Eddy S.W. Ng and Jasmine McGinnis Johnson


Since the publication of Howe and Strauss’s (2000) Millennials Rising, interest in the millennial generation has become widespread, particularly among marketers and employers (Foot, 2001; Hoover, 2009). Companies are eager to tap into a new market that is composed of younger consumers (Nowak et al., 2006), while employers are keen to attract and retain the next generation of workers as the Baby Boomers exit the workforce in large numbers (Burke and Ng, 2006; Perry and Buckwalter, 2010). In the U.S., there are roughly 74.3 million Millennials, representing 23.6 percent of the population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013). Likewise in Canada, there are 9.1 million Millennials, making up 27 percent of the Canadian population (Statistics Canada, 2011a). Although researchers have used different birth-year boundaries to define the Millennial generation (e.g., 1980–95 in Foot and Stoffman, 1998; 1982–99 in Howe and Strauss, 2000; after 1982 in Twenge, 2010), in reality the exact boundaries defining a generation are much less important than shared historical events and experiences accompanied by social changes (Lyons and Kuron, 2014; Parry and Urwin, 2011). Given the historical events that characterized their lives (e.g., post-Gen X, internet, turn of the century), authors have labeled them Gen Y, Gen Me, Net Gen, Nexus Generation, and Millennial Generation (Advertising Age, 1993; Barnard et al., 1998; Burke and Ng, 2006; Howe and Strauss, 2000; Twenge, 2006). For the purpose of this chapter, we will use the term “Millennial” to keep consistent with the literature.

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