AFS Blog

Bridging Generational Divides

Posted on November 08, 2018 | by Chuck Underwood
Bridging Generational Divides

Editor's Note: This article was originally published by the Herald-Tribune. Chuck Underwood, a pioneer of generational study, will be the keynote speaker at the Reinvention Convention Nov. 9 at Art Ovation in Sarasota. He hosts the PBS television series America’s Generations with Chuck Underwood and wrote America’s Generations in The Workplace, Marketplace, And Living Room.

Five generations are living and working side-by-side in America — all with their own sets of powerful core values that guide unique professional and personal relationships, behavior, consumer choices, career decisions, job performance, and lifestyle preferences.

Besides having a unique geographic beauty, for people ages 1–100+, Sarasota County also has a unique demographic beauty — a rare population balance of ages: one-third under the age of 35, one-third between 35-64, and another third 65-plus.

These cohorts range from the oldest G.I. generation (92-plus) to the Millennials (18-36) and those in the middle: Silents, Baby Boomers, and Gen Xers. The field of generational study can now help us navigate these generational differences — in the workplace, marketplace, and living room — and to live more harmoniously.

Sarasota’s businesses, governments, education institutions, religions, and residents will benefit if they understand how to address generational differences and similarities.

Intergenerational Harmony will be showcased at the 2nd annual Reinvention Convention Nov. 9. This series of discussions about aging is designed to encourage thought leadership, change minds and instigate action. It is presented by Friendship Centers, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Ringling College, JFCS of the Suncoast, and Age-Friendly Sarasota.

Here is a sampler of a few critical generational issues around the country, and the demand for reinvention they create:

• Industries like manufacturing, healthcare, retail, manual-labor trades and others are hurting from a shortage of workers because Gen Xers and Millennials have avoided these professions and careers for specific generational reasons. Those industries must train their leaders in generational workforce strategies: how to recruit, train, manage and retain each generation.

• Traditional news media are hurting for audience. Advertisers can’t figure out how to craft messages that will get the attention of the generations they target. This will require a focus on generational marketplace strategies: consumer research, product development, marketing, and advertising, selling and customer service.

• New Jersey has the nation’s largest out-migration of Millennial college graduates, who get their degrees in the state but then cross the border to work and live elsewhere. So, New Jersey is putting every aspect of community and business development under the generational microscope to be more Millennial-friendly.

• Boomers are transforming retirement (they were Disney’s First Generation, which explains why they’ve decided to simply not grow old — ever). This requires profound reinvention by the communities, industries, and services that target them.

• Silents possess more wealth than any prior generation at their current ages. They spend it more freely. They are more heavily involved in the personal care of their grandchildren than any generation in U.S. history, and many are working beyond traditional retirement age. Is Sarasota fully harnessing the contribution of Silents’ wisdom, experience, knowledge, and maturity?

• G.I.s, Silents, and Boomers came of age before the technology revolution. X’ers and Millennials did not. This creates a generation gap in the ways these generations prefer to work and live their lives. It also creates opportunities to bridge that gap by way of intergenerational forums, leisure events, mentoring and reverse mentoring, online chats and other communications.

If individuals, employers, marketers and their communities get into the heads of all generations, they can overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities of generational disruptions.

When all generations are pulling harmoniously in the same direction, celebrating our similarities and differences, and contributing in our unique generational ways, this community — and this nation — will be unstoppable.

To attend the event,


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