X, Y, BOOM! Generations at Work

Barbara Richter

Now just beginning to enter the profession. Echo Boomers are the children of Gen Xers, younger Boomers, or Boomers who  chose to have children later in life. Echos grew up in a time when there was an emphasis on child-rearing practices and the importance of the early years. Their parents planned their lives and were active participants in every aspect of it. They are the first generation to grow up with personal calendars and daytimers. Echos were always welcomed into adult company. Their  participation in family decision-making was encouraged and appreciated. They experienced a wide variety of family structures: two parents, single parents, same- sex parents and blended families. For them, diversity is a given.

Echo Boomers grew up in a world of email, the Internet and globalization. Some researchers believe that because of  their  early exposure to technology, the brains of Echos developed differently so as to make them super-efficient multi-taskers.  Simultaneously text-messaging, listening to downloaded MP3 music files, writing an essay on  Hamlet, clipping their toenails and tuning out nagging parents is all in a day’s work.

Echo Boomers  also  grew up  with  increasing school violence, gangs, economic uncertainty, a shrinking middle class, an increase in poverty and homelessness and a war on terror. Nevertheless they are a confident generation: optimistic, flexible, street-smart, sociable and civic-minded. They enjoy working with other idealistic people. Some researchers say they dis- play many of the early ideals of young Boomers (before they got jobs and credit cards), but are more practical in their approach. They are more likely to work for change within a system than to take to the streets against it.

On entering the workforce, Echo Boomers show a keen sense of participation and entitlement and may be quite surprised when their suggestions for workplace improvements aren’t welcomed or acted upon. They respect authority but are not in awe of it, and will treat the receptionist and the company president with an equal amount of respect.

“Paying  your  dues” is  an  alien  concept  and Echos  expect  quick  career  advancement.  They want meaningful work.  Having  grown up with attentive parents, video games and the Internet– all providing immediate feedback – they expect the workplace to deliver the same instant gratification. They expect respect. If they feel badly treated, they will broadcast their grievance to a worldwide network of peers at the click of a mouse.

Echo  Boomers  are  entering  the  education workplace in  a  time  of  relative peace. Stories of the battles fought and  gains  made and lost seldom resonate with them. They are eager and enthusiastic about building the optimistic future they  believe awaits them, and they waste little time and effort in reflecting on the past.