We are not forever defined by our birth generation, nor does our birth generation mandate the vaccine.
A birth generation offers assumed personality traits that do not necessarily define us: the subset of a generation varies based on personal experience: regardless of shared experiences, humans differ in attitude, sociopolitical views, personalities, and personal circumstances.
We are forever tied to generational title, but not necessarily generational personality traits. Businesses wasted years planning for five (5) generations: now with the sixth not far behind and today’s Space Planner is making radical accommodations for tomorrow. Regardless of staffs’ age, how they will behave and adapt upon return is the unknown.
Researchers assume, doctors diagnose, statisticians create algorithms, but no one business can predict how an age-dynamic workforce will adjust to a return to the office. As an example, resilient Boomers are expected to have a built-in mechanism to handle crisis, having already dealt with life-altering situations. Unfortunately, The Pandemic did not offer a fair fight as Boomer behavior ranged from self-isolation to living with no regret.
Gen X Latchkey Kids grew up independent and suited to isolation, although a disproportionate number have struggled: minimalized socialization: challenges with aging parents, home school youngsters and older children missing higher learning socialization. Gen X wholly embraced the office culture before the sudden shift to work from anywhere. X’ers face immortality and financial insecurity while feeling optimistic about their return office…or not.
Gen Y survived the recession yet were caught off-guard with today’s financial instability. Millennials recovered juggling: wholly virtual work; home schooling young children; distancing from senior family members; limited freedoms; adjusted income. This was their time to celebrate personal success yet making smart adjustments as needed like moving families out of the city in exchange for a less expensive suburban lifestyle where openness is a welcome attraction.
“…younger generations will…offer clues for companies to reset…how we work, socialize, shop… listen to younger employees to create a better normal… despite uncertain…conditions…Gen Y / Z express resiliency and resolve to improve the world as we rebuild economies, society and business.” Michele Parmelee, Deloitte CPO, September 2020.
Tech savvy Gen Z’s embraced virtual work, although missed out on in person interviews and on-site training. The youngest were first out, facing financial hardships against newly found independence; higher earnings replaced by lower potential. Many Zoomers remain in school, or actively re-training as they develop new skills to make them more appealing to an employer. The youngest Zoomers will strongly contribute to workplace recovery.
The Covid Generation a.k.a. Gen Alpha are sharing a global experience neither anticipated nor planned. These youngsters: create the template for home schooling and work from anywhere; tech savvy with limited separation between reality and device; impressionable and resilient; will likely end up optimistic; a sense of life as a hybrid; a strong generational bond much like prior generations sharing war, civil unrest, AIDES, 9/ 11, shuttle explosion, or Elvis dying.
“…Generation Covid a.k.a. Gen C is…not only marked by trauma and death, but…the failures of adults to protect them and their world…” David Perry, Journalist/Senior Academic Adviser, University of Minnesota December 2020
Vaccines will not erase the long-term effects of Covid-19, but the most resilient of us will find their positive.
The conversation has changed from if to when employees wholly return to the workplace. The ethical debate on whether there should be universal legislation is already playing out in courts around the globe. Employers are becoming vaccine activists, encouraging but not requiring vaccinations by offering incentives, many of them leading by example:
Lidl giving staff $200 cash; Aldi, Dollar General and Trader Joes offer extra pay; Instacart providing $25 stipend; Chobani and Danone offer six (6) hours paid leave; fully vaccinated Israeli’s receive a green pass to attend concerts, dine out, go to a gym, travel to select countries, etc.
CHG Healthcare surveyed workers between the ages of 18 and 71 on outstanding issues and concerns they might have while the virus remains a threat. Published February 2021 on PRNewswire, “CHG…moved employees out of offices and into their homes in March 2020…still determining what returning to the office looks…hoping surveys help guide employers to create a return-to-office plan focused on what’s best for employees and organizational need…” Kevin Ricklefs, Chief Culture Officer at CHG Healthcare.
“…While it’s recommended…in the UK that employers won’t be able to impose a blanket requirement to staff to have the vaccine…or penalize if not…whether employers…could ban people from coming into work who refuse to have it would ultimately be very case-specific…” Andrew Willis, Head of Legal at Croner.