Why No One Under 30 Answers Your Voicemail

DiversityInc, November 12th, 2010

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By Sam Ali

To understand the generational divide that exists between older and younger workers in today's workplace, consider the simple case of voicemail. Try leaving a Gen Y employee or colleague a voicemail message, and see what happens. They're not going to hear it. Gen Y members tune out practically any communication effort they perceive as unsolicited or spam.

"If you send a message on voicemail or send an e-mail, they are likely to ignore it," says Jeff Schwartz, U.S. and global talent leader at Deloitte, No. 25 in The 2010 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity®. "It's very frustrating to our leaders, most of whom are boomers [and] some of whom are Gen X'ers. When they broadcast voicemail messages, big swaths of their organization are not hearing it. They're not even listening to it and they're not even sure it's directed to them because they don't think about being communicated with in that way. CEOs or HR leaders or business leaders think they're sending a direct message, but that is not the most effective way to communicate across the generations."

Deloitte's solution: Instead of leaders sending broadcast voicemail messages on the telephone system, employees now get a digital recording of the message embedded in an e-mail.

Sound complicated? It is. Welcome to the modern-day workplace 2.0.

This is the first time in American history that four different generations are working side-by-side in the workplace, bringing their own values, goals and communication approaches to the workplace. What's the biggest difference between Generation Y (born between 1980 and 2000) and baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)? And how do those in Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979) fit in?

"Millennials grew up with computers and cell phones the way baby boomers and Gen X'ers grew up with typewriters and corded telephones," according to a recent Deloitte report, "Decoding Generational Differences: Fact, fiction ... or should we just get back to work?" "The implications of this technological dispar­ity are profound: Baby boomers see technology as a tool, or even a toy, while younger workers see it as an extension of themselves. These millennials see themselves as 'technology natives,' moderate multi-taskers who get a lot done. Most of them mix entertainment and work." Go to DiversityInc to read full article

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