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New Class Explores How Generations Influence Work Environments

Featured in Technology Today (Volume 34, Issue 3), a quarterly publication of the Louisiana Transportation Research Center.

Baby boomers, millennials, and generation Z are just some of the labels used to describe the different generations of all the people we live and work around. These terms are probably familiar to most, but unfortunately some people may not be aware these terms also come with a set of stereotypes and misconceptions that can be tricky to unlearn. This is where LTRC’s new class “Managing Across Generations” comes in. Strategic Statewide Program Manager Garrett Wheat, Ph.D., created this class not just to educate others about the differences and similarities between the generations but also to foster understanding and connection in the workplace.

After years of taking workshops centered around the subject of multi-generational workplaces, Dr. Wheat decided to create a class offered to DOTD staff that would generate insightful class conversations and give a unique in-depth understanding of each generation. “Discussing multiple generations can seem polarizing on the face of it, so the class tries to address this—as well as typical stereotypes around the topic,” he explains. “Issues in the workplace may arise when there are misunderstandings because of different values, attitudes, experiences, opinions, habits, behavior, interests, and communication styles. Regardless of the differences between generations, there are also commonalities.”

An example of how our four-generation workforce provides challenges

Developed with the use of multiple webinars, workshops, books, blogs, and news sites, the class focuses on the possible issues and views each generation has when it comes to technology, social media, work-related matters, inter-personal relationships, and leadership. Information presented in the class also incorporates research done by the Pew Research Center and the US Census and includes a 43-page class manual filled with valuable insights. DOTD staff who are curious about the world around them or are interested in learning practical advice for effective communication and teamwork with a diverse array of people will certainly enjoy this class.

LTRC hopes the class will soon be placed into LEO and made accessible to anyone who wants to sign up. Through the “Managing Across Generations” class, Dr. Wheat encourages others to be aware of any unconscious biases they may have towards people of different generations. The most important thing to focus on will always be how employees treat and work with others, differences aside.

Millennial

“The class gives a fun overview of generational changes while pointing out the generational cycle: each generation feels the same about the next generation as the generation before them felt about them.”

–Rebecca Rizzutto, Education Outreach Program Manager

Baby Boomer

“It’s interesting to see some of the things talked about across the various generations that were influences or differences for some of the older generations are circling back among the younger generations.”

–Angela Rovaris, DOTD External Training Director

Meet the instructor

There are currently no prerequisites or other requirements needed to enroll in “Managing Across Generations,” and one of LTRC’s newest employees, Marcus Sylvas, LTRC Leadership Development Program Manager, will be teaching the class. Sylvas joins LTRC from LSU’s Office of Human Resource Management, where he served as a talent acquisition specialist. Familiar with working alongside a wide range of individuals with different ages, job titles, and educational backgrounds, he is looking forward to guiding participants beyond generational perceptions and pushing them to engage in conversations with coworkers and family members about what they learn.

“I would like to continue to grow the great curriculum Dr. Wheat has built over the years. Based on my background, I have different perspectives and ideas that can bolster the materials and resources that are currently available,” Sylvas explained. “My experiences involve interacting with a lot of people from all over the world who have made me look at certain aspects of life differently. I hope to use those experiences to be relatable to my audience, to educate, and to challenge everyone to consider different perspectives and dig deeper within themselves.”

To learn more about the class and future offerings, please contact Marcus Sylvas at 225-767-9112 or marcus.sylvas2@la.gov.

Credits:

Photos by Chris Melton (LTRC) and Gabrielle Henderson (Unsplash)