Managing the Multigenerational Workforce: From the GI Generation to the Millennials

Human Resource Management International Digest

ISSN: 0967-0734

Article publication date: 16 March 2012



DelCampo, R.G. (2012), "Managing the Multigenerational Workforce: From the GI Generation to the Millennials", Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 20 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Managing the Multigenerational Workforce: From the GI Generation to the Millennials

Article Type: Suggested reading From: Human Resource Management International Digest, Volume 20, Issue 2

Robert G. DelCampo, Lauren A. Haggerty, Meredith Jane Haney and Lauren Ashley, Knippel,Gower Publishing,2011,ISBN: 9781409403883

Managing the Multigenerational Workforce: From the GI Generation to the Millennials is an interesting text on a much-discussed topic. The book contains samples of past and current research about the generational cohorts and addresses the stereotypes assigned to each.

Ever since people have recognized generations, each dominant generation has criticized the emergent one. While each generation exhibits common attitudes based on shared perspectives of what happens around them, no generation operates in a vacuum. World events affect all generations existing at a point in time. For example, the 2008 financial crisis was felt, albeit differently, by the four extant generations. It is simply that current events are seminal to emerging generations coming into their own. However, to continue to highlight a single generation as “the generation” that we hang our hats on for success is putting an unfair burden on it.

The eight chapters in the book are bracketed by an introduction, notes and an index. The first three chapters define and provide examples of the various generations extant in the contemporary workforce, followed by common assumptions about expectations common to generational cohorts. Chapter 4 discusses relationship building. The remaining four chapters cover: the psychological contract; organizational structure, culture, and training; recruitment and retention; and managerial styles. The authors also include a table containing key characteristics of each of the generations discussed.

The most valuable and compelling topic addressed is the psychological contract. The millennials comprise a “manufactured generation” for which expectations are a key identifier. And a useful discussion is the impact that the failing economy has had on millennials’ expectations.

The book assumes too much homogeneity regarding the generational cohorts. It fails, for example, to discuss the “cuspers”, or those who fall between generations, as well as waves within each generation, or what we might call sub-generations whose earlier members can perceive their worlds differently from later arrivals to the same generational cohort.

The book attempts to cover too much theoretical ground in its limited treatment of the psychological contract (a useful discussion that is probably most relevant to understanding the multigenerational workforce), organizations, recruitment and management styles.

Reviewed by Larry W. Hughes, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.

A longer version of this review was originally published in Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 32 No. 6, 2011.

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