Dealing with the Challenge of Generations
April 30, 2008

URBANA - A research-based program for improving communication among different generations and improving their performance in the workplace is now available through University of Illinois Extension. "Engaging Generations" is offered statewide and coordinated by Terry Feinberg, a U of I Extension community and economic development educator.

"Most employers face enormous challenges recruiting, retaining, and engaging top talent," explained Feinberg. "These challenges range from severe shortages of key personnel to difficulties applying a cookie-cutter approach to motivating different individuals in a diverse workforce.

"One reason for these challenges is that we have a multigenerational workforce, and each generation has different motivators, values, and influences."

At present, there are four distinct generations in the workforce. The "Radio Generation" spans those born between 1926 and 1945, succeeded by the "Baby Boomers" 1946 to 1965. Next are "Generation X," those born between 1966 and 1985, and, finally, "Generation Y," born between 1986 and 2005. Each generation has a unique set of beliefs, reactions, and perceptions, she noted.

"The key for successful managers is to recognize the secrets of understanding, communicating with, and motivating people from different generations," she said.

Feinberg said the program includes information on designing marketing messages to gain response from people in different generations, discovering more effective ways to communicate across generation lines, how to motivate each generation, deploying tactics to recruit, retain, and motivate top talent, and improving customer service.

"We offer this program in a variety of formats, from distance learning to public workshops to customized training in the workplace," she said.

Those interested n learning more about the program can visit its website ( or contact Feinberg at (815) 616-5021 or by email at