We are getting older – and fewer

nachwuchs1.Demographic change poses an enormous challenge in most Western countries. In Germany, the total population is steadily shrinking, and  the working-age population with it. Low birth rates lead to a changing age structure – on average, Germany is getting older and so is the workforce in the companies.

While companies were still spoiled for choice when hiring new employees in the 1990s, more and more organizations are experiencing competition for talented young people.

The offspring will be rarer – and more self-confident. Academic degrees, fluency in foreign languages, the natural use of new media and longer stays abroad are often part of the basic equipment for the young generation today.

What are generations?

In sociology generations are age cohorts that have experienced formative historical events (key events) in the same period of life. Experiences during the youth are classified as particularly formative. (See, for example, Karl Mannheim, William Strauss, Neil Howe)

Today, up to four generations work together in Western companies:

  • Generation Baby Boomers (born 1950 – 1964)
  • Generation X (born 1965 – 1979)
  • Generation Y (born 1980 – 1994)
  • Generation Z (born 1995 – 2009)

The next generation, so the ones born after 2010, is already being traded as „Generation Alpha“.In Germany the generation born before 1950 is often referred to as „war generation“. Today we only find a few representatives of this generation in companies. In other countries (such as the US) the „baby boomers“ already start after World War II; in Germany, the baby boom was delayed due to the consequences of the war.

Generation mix in companies

Although the generation Y is spoken about in particular, it would be fatal – not only from a business perspective – to ignore the interests of the older generation, especially with regard to demographic change issues. The challenge for companies is to integrate everybody’s strengths and talents. Of course, people are individual – and we also find nerdy coders among the baby boomers (after all, this generation invented computers!). And there are also conservative and traditionalist Generation Yers. Nonetheless, looking at generations offers an interesting perspective as we can identify trends that will help to work with teams and organizations.

This means:

  • Developing intergenerational teams: raising awareness of differences, promoting mutual understanding, improving cooperation, shaping cooperation. more…
  • Attracting, promoting and retaining young talents: Understanding the demands of the younger generation, rethinking organizational structures and processes, leadership work.
  • Generational leadership: understanding, motivating and targeting different generations. more…

KAOS Coaching & Development accompanies you to competently integrate different generations in the company and to create an environment in which generation-specific requirements, strengths and themes come into play.

Why work with generations?

Inspired by the Generation Y debate some years ago, Katrin started to develop an interest for the topic. Born in 1980, she often has the feeling of standing between generations X and Y. And as a daughter of two baby boomers, she had the pleasure of dealing with their imprints and values ​​(thankfully, puberty is over …).

As business coaches, we move both in young startups and in traditional companies, and often encounters incomprehension between generations. „They should gain some experience first“; „They are so backward“; „We have always done it that way“; „That’s so outdated“ – classic sentences.

This is a pity. Because it is exhausting.

For this reason Katrin has taken up this topic together with our colleague Katja Kunz and we have developed workshops in which people, teams and executives playfully engage in generation-specific perspectives. In addition to eye opening experiences, this brings a lot of fun, generates mutual understanding and appreciation and promotes cooperation.