Over the course of 2014, we have surveyed numerous HR practitioners over all three levels of Government in an attempt to better understand the correlation between generational groups and reactions to change.

The findings from our research were validated by an article which appeared in last week’s AFR, ‘Gen Y’s work ethic is OK.’ It discussed Tamara Erikson’s own research into generational differences and how they will continue to impact the workplace. Erikson, a world leader in generational studies, has examined the impact of ‘influences’ on generations and the way they view the world.

One of her key findings is that ‘generational biases follow us throughout our lives.’ By no means does Erikson disregard the impact of personality and gender (amongst other factors), but she has continuously found that a person’s generational group significantly influences their ‘knee-jerk reaction’ when perceiving and reacting to the events of today.

Choice Career Services places huge emphasis on evolving how organisations can better manage the human impacts of change. Our research focus in 2014 has been on generational differences and its impact on change management. Our research has identified a number of characteristics for each generation:

  • ‘Baby boomers’; resilient in the face of change but easily unsettled by constant change. Baby Boomers often exhibit signs of ‘change fatigue’.
  • ‘Generation X’; generally approach change with caution but are more open to the opportunities change can provide.
  • ‘Generation Y’; generally want to understand ‘why’ change is occurring and ‘what’s in it for them’. Generation Y are typically more willing to move based on opportunities presented to them.

Interestingly, our research identified most Government organisations did not have a generation-tailored approach to managing change. This was particularly surprising given these same organisations explicitly acknowledged the differences in generational characteristics and reactions to change.

As Change Managers, are we really giving our change programs the best chance of successful implementation if we don’t have a more tailored approach to the employee demographics of our organisations? If we don’t talk to the needs of the employee population then our ability to manage change successfully is limited.

At Choice Career Services we are passionate about managing the human impact of change.