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The Impact of Covid-19 on Different Generations – Episode 1: Generational Calculations in Strategy

Crises affect everyone differently. However, when creating a business strategy, we cannot ask every single employee or potential client how they personally feel about the situation. More and more companies are using typifying, group-forming approaches when creating their strategies precisely because of this. Some are based on location, others on personality characters, and others on generations. Generations are certainly important in a time of crisis, when business problems also affect private lives, and COVID-19 steamrolled its way into our private lives. In this series, we’ll look at how different generations are experiencing the aftermath of the past year and a half.

General, but it works

When we talk about generational effects, it is first important to be careful with generalisations in this area, even if they are by accident. Although when we were born clearly influences our decision-making mechanisms, it does not clearly define it, as significant differences can only occur due to differences in personality types. So, it is professionally correct to approach the topic so that the generational effect is a more of trend in our adult decisions. A plus, an additional aspect and value system to be considered in business strategy. It is obviously easy to accept that the era in which we grow up affects our lives. A lot of research has been done about which stage of our lives is the most sensitive in this regard. That is, how can we define, at all, at what age we get the so-called “generational impact” on our decisions. Obviously, the general x-y-z theory does not provide an answer to this definition, which is why more serious strategy firms take much deeper approaches in their work. For example, the increasingly widespread use of 12-year timelines in business strategy design provides a strong basis for responding to generational decision-making mechanisms. The generation system of the RISE Human Development System operates in 12-year terms, with additional sub-terms within it. Since the system itself follows the formation of the personality, it can also parallel the generational effects with the effects on the personality of the given group, i.e., on the decision-making mechanisms of the group. According to their research, generation-based decision-making mechanisms are directly related to the development of a person’s “idol personality”. This process is placed between the ages of 8 and 12, and research clearly shows that the idol we form is responsible for our adult decisions. That is, in the interpretation of generational effects, the main focus is on the effects on the given age group between ages 8 and 12. Of course, this is not a rule set in stone, as there are people for whom the first idol signs can be defined as early as 6 or 7, and there are also those for whom this process only starts later, at 13 or 14. This is why it is important to identify socially and sociologically important events during this period and generate generational trends.

Data, data, data

This requires constructing a serious database based on the events that most determine and influence each age. After collecting the events, it is important to determine their impact on subsequent decision-making and the elements that appear in the idol personality. Once you have these effects, it’s important to keep track of what that age group faces as they grow up. This is how we can get the trend of so-called generation-based decision-making mechanisms. A good example of this is the decisions of the generation of Ambitionists, which is a huge challenge in the labour market. Born between 1985 and 1996, it was the first generation to grow up among full-tilt globalisation. Video games and social media have opened up the world to them. Talent shows and YouTube have provided an ongoing opportunity to dare to dream that simple people will become superstars (overnight, of course). They also saw the startup successes of the generation ahead of them, so they started their adult lives with a kind of “the world will come to us” attitude. Then came the huge disappointment. On the one hand, the start of their careers was negatively affected by the Great Recession starting in 2008; the notion of a “hefty salary, immediately” did not win over employers in the middle of the economic crisis. That is, their dream shattered, leaving a wake of disappointment. They considered themselves different, smarter, and more fit than previous generations, but they could not assert themselves, and they could not convert these advantages. Thus, a deliberate assertiveness often developed, an “I want everything, immediately” attitude on a generational level, which was increasingly difficult for older people to bear. This is, for example, an effect that, to a greater or lesser extent, affects all those born in the Ambitionists generation. And as an employer, we need to be aware of that!