Generational War and Peace

The FSU Annual Conversation on Inclusion hosts a discussion on how different generations interact in the workplace

“This is the best — not one of — but the best event on campus,” Ferris Provost Paul Blake said in his opening remarks during the FSU Annual Conversation on Inclusion.

The Thursday, Sept. 19, event focused on communication between generations within the workplace and featured three keynote speakers: one from the Baby Boomer generation, one from Generation X, and one from Generation Y; a “Millennial.”

“One of the things that our organization has had to deal with is welcoming newcomers but remembering that they’re individuals,” speaker Michael G. Walraven said.

The loosely-followed theme the speakers presented was “not painting generations with a broad stroke,” a phrase reiterated several times throughout the discussion. The focused view was how people in the workplace, regardless of generation, should be tolerant and respectful of their coworkers.

Another theme of the discussion, primarily from speaker Tim Baumgardner — the Generation X speaker — was the concept of conformity to expectations. Baumgardner mentioned a story in which he changed his manner of dress as a means to “climb the corporate ladder.” This conformity also extended to expectations workers held within and toward the company they work for. While Walraven mentioned the changing of expectations or benefits needed from a workplace from money to time, Millennial speaker Arielle Barlage focused more toward earning good experiences from a job.

“Once you move through the career path for a bit and you reach a certain amount of income where you can care for yourself and care for your family and accomplish the things that bring you joy in life, money then isn’t as important as some of the other things,” Baumgardner said. “I’m personally more motivated by a healthy work-life balance.”

The emphasis the speakers seemed to place on time over money also seemed to increase with age. When the event began, the audience was asked if they were there for extra credit, and an anonymous member of the audience responded that “it’s more than just extra credit, it’s mandatory.” After the event, reactions seemed to range from genuine interest to boredom, though many students found it informative.

“I really don’t know what it’s for,” Ferris operations and supply chain management freshman Breyanna Gebben said, regarding the discussion as it began. “I just know that it’s something about inclusion, and I’m kind of excited to learn what it’s actually supposed to be about.”