At some point in life you realize a whole generation slipped in behind you.  My realization came while watching a beer commercial.  I remember mumbling, “I don’t get it.”  My husband simply replied, “You weren’t supposed to.”

It was that simple.  I can almost point to the date on the calendar when I realized Madison Avenue was no longer interested in me … at least not for beer sales.  They had moved on to the next generation.

Today, there are 3 generations active in the workplace and 5 generations in the marketplace.  Each of these generations has been “programmed” by the era in which they grew up leaving them with a unique outlook and a distinct set of expectations.  It does not matter if you are hiring them, managing them, trying to sell them something or just living with them, you need to understand the basic differences.

Photo by Henrik Abelsson Abelsson, Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Let’s take something as basic as dental care:

Traditionalists (born between 1925 & 1945): Grew up before penicillin, fluoride and commercial toothpaste.  This hard working generation grew up seeing a dentist only when they really needed one.

Boomers (born between 1946 & 1964): Grew up with television and toothpaste ads. Some had fluoride and most had their cavities filled, and the wealthy ones got braces.

Gen X (born between 1965 & 1980): Grew up with routine dental care, fluoride was widely accepted, and braces were becoming more common along with a wide range of new products including mouthwash.

Gen Y/Millennials (born between 1981 & 1998): They grew up assuming teeth were supposed to be white and perfect.  Due to sealants and advanced dental care, many have reached adulthood with no cavities.

Digitals (born between 1997 & 2010):  They are growing up with trips to the dentist that are easy, routine and at times even fun!  Dentists help you look good and have perfect teeth your whole life.

It does not matter what your business is, you need to figure out what each generation’s outlook and expectations are for your work so you can respond.  Now, let’s see a big smile!