Multigenerational Workplaces

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Here are a few tips about sources, subject headings, and strategies that you may want to start with. Note that these tips are just a start: think broadly about the sort of information you need and about who might have that information (government/association/academic/news/etc.).


Articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers

A. Try searching in Business Source Complete using various combinations of such Subjects as:

  • Millennial
  • Generation Y
  • Generation X
  • Baby boomer generation
  • Conflict of generations
  • Intergenerational relations
  • Personnel management

Start with this rough exploratory search in Business Source Complete.

Sample: I came across this 2015 article recently:

Then I checked Google Scholar and found that the article had been cited at least 27 times since it was first written. Some of those citing articles may also be on your topic, and all of them are from 2015 or later.


B. As with many HR/OB topics, both PsycInfo and Sociological Abstracts would also be good databases to search.

  • See, for example, this basic PsycInfo search.
  • Note that publications that are listed as being in "Dissertation Abstracts International" are PhD dissertations or Masters theses. Such sources are often very detailed and have exhaustive reference lists that can be great starting points for your research, but you may need to use Google to find the fulltext. For example, the 2019 PhD dissertation, "How do organizations create and sustain vitality in a multigenerational workforce," is available to view for free here.
  • And, if you find dissertations useful, here are many more!


C. For more of a Canadian perspective, try CBCA Complete and look for articles using the same terms (as keywords rather than subjects) that you used in Business Source Complete. Also try Canadian Newsstand for Canadian newspaper articles. (Remember that news articles can be great ways to learn about key researchers and publications on a topic. Follow those leads!)


Books and eBooks

A. Start with this rough search in the SU Library catalogue.

Remember that even books that appear to be mostly about a specific generation will likely have information that is relevant to your case. However, buried amongst your results will probably be some titles that are explicitly about multigenerational situations. I've listed a few such titles below:


Other resources

A. Try a search for millennial at the Pew Research Centre. The results are largely focused on the US population, but may be of use nonetheless. (Your decision!)


B. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers a series of articles on this topic by their own staff and others. Some are only available to SHRM members, but many are freely available. For example...

SHRM is also responsible for HR Magazine, a professional magazine that often highlights key trends and mentions relevant research or experts.


C. HR and management consulting firms may have white papers or articles that touch on this topic. For instance:

  • AON:
  • Mercer:
  • Deloitte:
  • Robert Half:


D. I see that the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has released the results of a new study on diversity initiatives in organizations. Their focus was mostly on non-age aspects of diversity: gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. However, perhaps diversity of all types will have similar effects? Is it worth researching diversity as a broadly defined concept to see if the findings could be applicable to your situation? Maybe re-explore Business Source Complete and our catalogue with broader searches?


E. I see that the Canadian government did some consultations with older workers a few years ago to try to learn more about their needs and issues in the workplace. Given that so many other sources are focused on the needs of the younger generations, it might be good to consider the report about the older generation as well: HRSDC Consultations with Older Workers and Employers: Summary of What We Heard.


Tips

A. Many of my resource suggestions above are focused on the multigenerational aspect of your topic, but you should also research each of the major workplace generations separately to best understand the most recent research on their needs, preferences, etc., then combine all that knowledge yourself... rather than just relying on others to have picked the key generational facts and combined them for you. For example, here's a brand new ebook on Managing Millennials.


B. Any discussion of generational differences has a danger of over-relying on stereotypes. We are all, of course, unique individuals. Nevertheless, there are some general statements about each broad generation that are both useful and broadly applicable. Be careful to look for a research basis for such statements before including them as evidence for your audience to consider in a report.


C. It may, at times, be worth leaving "generations" completely out of your search! If, for instance, you want evidence on best research-supported practices in areas such as employee motivation or retention, you could just search Business Source Complete and other databases for studies done on those specific topics, then check to see if there were variations between age groups in the studies that might be useful in your generational analysis.


D. Don't ignore older articles, especially those in academic journals. They may at least help you find related research that is newer. For example...

  • This article from 2014 has been cited by at least 9 newer articles in Business Source Complete (follow the title link below, then click on "Times Cited in this Database" to see those 9 articles), and it has been cited over 160 times by newer articles, chapters, books and reports in Google Scholar.


<No further suggestions yet - but keep checking. Also, don't forget that this is your wiki: you are welcome to add any tips here whenever you'd like. --- MB>