Generational Inclusion or Diversity?

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Generational Inclusion or Diversity?

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Organizations of all sizes are concerned about employee engagement and while some proclaim that employee engagement is a buzz phrase, others know from their own personal experiences that work is not about work / life balance, but more about life style. I’m not proclaiming a workaholic viewpoint, but I am suggesting that work and life crossover, perhaps more than many would like to admit. Those connecting with the  Dolly Parton song 9 to 5 may have to shift their thinking.

business woman with her staff in background at office

Generational differences are often labeled as problematic, and it is true that the traditionals and boomer communities may have a different agenda as compared to their younger counterparts. Through informal surveys I’ve discovered that much of the millennial population believes in common and shared effort across teams and organizations, which includes responsibility, accountability, and a good work ethic. Their need to compete is of less concern when compared with their need to matter, make a difference, or have a sense of purpose.

The concept of diversity may suggest division or being divided, when in reality what most organizations need is inclusion. When we think more about how to include the values and beliefs across all workplace generations we are making a conscious effort of inclusion. If we are not thinking about inclusion we may be focused on what is different and the result is segregation not engagement.

Recently I wrote about some of the myths associated with generational differences and age, and it is important not to confuse these two very different issues. So many organizations are trying to understand employee engagement and generational differences because they have realized that it is costing them in terms of both money and people, and they understand that closing this gap means unifying the team.

Societal trends may cause many working professionals, especially those that are representative of the more recent generations, to view their job as a contribution to both society and community. This also may lead them to consider their place of work and level of engagement as a life style choice, not just a job. Considering this, it may suggest that people join an organization for the life style. Shocking? Yes, to some, but it appears organizations that have this figured out also have better engagement and retention.

It often seems the generalized belief is that workplace harmony is created when the breadth of diversity is embraced. Perhaps today’s organizations should focus more on culture changes for inclusion, not diversity.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker, and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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January 4, 2016at 10:49 am

Some interesting points here. I do think there’s a lot of benefits to a multigenerational workforce, no matter what you call it. Thanks for sharing these important points!


    January 5, 2016at 8:51 am

    Thanks for your comment Jordan. I agree, lots of benefits.

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