The Time to Lead is Now: Work/Life Balance and Generations in the Workplace


We’ve all had to adapt over the past few months to continue working effectively in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.  Some of the changes our workplaces have had to make have highlighted the differences among the various generations currently in the workforce.  Tasha Villani from Catapult, an executive consulting firm, walked us through how the current health crisis is affecting generations in the workforce differently.

Generations in the Workplace

There are currently four main generations active in the workforce: Baby Boomers (~ 1946-1964), Generation X (~1965-1980), Millennials (~1981-1996), and Generation Z (~1997-present).  Generally, senior leaders are comprised of Baby Boomers and Generation X while emerging leaders are comprised of Millennials and Generation Z. 

Senior leaders came of age in a very different workplace than the one in which emerging leaders are coming of age.  The various generational differences in these leaders has been highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic.  

We’ve had to rely more heavily on technology to continue working consistently.  Video meetings have become a daily occurrence.  Our various systems and files have had to switch to a cloud based versions or be accessed via a VPN.  Emerging leaders tend to be more comfortable than senior leaders with adapting to new technologies.  Some senior leaders may begin to develop anxieties that their unfamiliarity with technology could result in emerging leaders taking over some of their roles.

Emerging leaders can provide more guidance in navigating new technologies.  Many tools also provide instructional videos or blog posts on their websites that can be helpful when navigating new technologies.  If your company has a robust communications team, they can create company-specific tutorials on the best ways to adapt to a “new normal.”

While dependence on new technologies may increase anxiety in senior leaders, emerging leaders are more likely to feel anxious about the effects of the pandemic.  Their formative years were punctuated by 9/11, the Great Recession, and multiple school shootings.  Many may have less financial security because they started working in the aftermath of these crises.  The current pandemic could increase their anxieties and negatively affect their mental health.

This emphasizes the need for regular check-ins with members of your team (and not just emerging leaders!).  Taking the time to see how your team members are managing can help ensure that they’re taking time to care for their mental health in the midst of our current challenges.

Maintaining Balance Post-COVID19

When our senior leaders joined the workforce, work and personal lives were kept separate.  The line between the two began to blur as our emerging leaders joined the workforce.  Out of necessity, we’ve had to erase the line between our work and personal lives during this experience.  And it’s had a positive effect.  Getting to know our co-workers on a more personal level has helped us to understand one another better.  What happens in your personal and work lives affects the other, so it makes sense that they aren’t kept completely separate.

As we transition back to our office spaces, there will be elements of our quarantine workplace that will make the transition back with us.  Many senior leaders may have found that they’ve enjoyed the benefits of working from home, and that their employees are equally as productive. They may choose to update their policies to include the ability to work from home. 

The ability to work from home will continue to foster the integration of our work and personal lives emphasizing that we are able to choose what we bring into our “new normal” and what we leave behind.