I often recount to my kids the famous FISH story at the Seattle Pike Place Market, where they chose to think differently about their daily duties of selling fish in a public market. Their jobs were perceived as boring, tiring, and mundane. They completed the same task over and over again with no challenge. They had nothing new to learn. Retention was poor, attendance was low, and attitudes teetered between neutral and negative. 

The team decided to try something new. To think outside the box and make their jobs more about entertainment and experience and less about unpacking and butchering fish for cranky customers at a busy outdoor market. Their decision? Chuck fish at customers! Get customers involved. Create an energy and positive experience out of something otherwise mundane. Ultimately – Choose Your Attitude. Change your mindset. Nothing is static. Everything is possible.

I have become deeply curious and interested in the topic of mindset.

  • How does mindset affect our daily work life? Our outlook?
  • How does mindset affect us depending on the environment in which we surround ourselves?
  • What generational differences in a workplace affect the mindset and, thereby, outcomes at work?
  • What economic factors or major events influence these behaviors and mindsets to shift or not to shift?
  • Ultimately, what do people need, based on their mindset, to achieve fulfillment in their day-to-day lives? Both at work and play?  

The concept of Mindset is relatively simple. How you think affects what you achieve. A fixed mindset is one where skills, attitudes, and behaviors are unchanging; they are static. To quote Dr. Eve Maceda, “You are either good at something, or you’re not. You’re smart, or you’re not. You’re good at sports, or you’re not.” In a Growth Mindset, you can learn and do anything you want. You are inspired by others. You like to try new things. How you choose to see things directly impacts your outlook.

So, what about generational differences in the workplace? For the first time in history, our working environments are no longer dominated by 1 or 2 generations of workers. In most cases, we have 4, if not 5, unique groups operating in the same environment. And since March 2020, it could be argued that those who make up today’s workforce have fundamentally shifted unlike anything we have ever experienced. Our working environments are no longer predictable or structured. We have fragmented cultures with packs of workers in various options and flexible arrangements. What’s best for one individual is not necessarily suitable for another. 

 A brief breakdown of the needs of each generation can be viewed below. Note that each group’s needs, desires, and outcomes are vastly different. Boomers aspire for job security, whereas millennials seek freedom and flexibility. Gen Xer’s definition of work is a complex challenge where Gen Z must constantly evolve their job duties.

Note: “Designing Spaces That Work For a Multigenerational Workforce” by Melissa Malburg – www.progressiveae.com/creating-multigenerational-spaces/

This mix of the multigeneration environment adds a new level of complexity to our ever-changing economy and workforce. On the one hand, this diverse cornucopia of thoughts and perspectives allows for endless creativity and innovation. On the other hand, it can create indecisiveness and stall or halt productivity if not understood and fostered. Retention hangs in the balance where unrest exists. Individuals seeking new opportunities have the opportunity to create an extensive Wishlist of their dream jobs. The C-Suite is left to scramble and figure out ‘a plan’.

I have experienced many conversations of late where hiring managers don’t know how to ‘make their team members engaged’ or ‘get them motivated.’ As we’ve read above, different generations bring distinct perspectives, values, outlooks, and expectations, and managers are faced with the complex challenge of attempting to satisfy every group. What if everyone were to look at things in a Growth Perspective? Perhaps a one-size-fits-all plan is not what the future holds. Perhaps the balance lies within. One thing is for certain: the mindset of today’s workforce is much more complex than ever before, and it behooves us to look at things with a thoughtful and open-minded perspective. Absent of that, what are we all working towards?