The Student Employee Excellence Development Program hosted a workshop Tuesday to discuss the disconnect between older and younger generations in the UT workplace.
At the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Building, SEED program coordinators led UT students and faculty through a series of exercises focused on helping students and employers understand each other.
SEED is a professional development program for student employees on campus devised to enhance students’ skill sets, knowledge bases and leadership potential, according to the UT Human Resources website.
Amy Greenspan, student employment coordinator of UT Human Resources, said it’s important to work through the generation gap between student employees and employers in order to make the workplace more effective, harmonious and productive.
“We all come with our own set of experiences,” Greenspan said. “I’m a member of the baby boomer generation, which is a very different set of experiences and expectations from the millennial generation. But the more people understand, the better they can work together and be productive and happy in a satisfied work environment.”
Jaime Davis, the training program manager for University Compliance Services, said communication is the most important step in moving past generational differences.
“This is an opportunity for students to share their thoughts and opinions on the world and vice versa,” Davis said. “I see a lot of misconceptions about younger generations and things being ‘better in the old days,’ so I hope the older people can see that it’s just about different experiences.”
This is the only SEED workshop open to both students and faculty, Davis said.
Sociology junior Nafisa Gazi said the facilitators did a good job of helping her understand the perspectives of older people.
“It’s another element of the workplace,” Gazi said. “Just like accounting for people’s different cultural backgrounds and belief systems, you need to account for the eras people were born in."
Ana Dison, assistant director of Women in Engineering, said she gained a better understanding of the millennial perspective as a member of Generation X, the generation born after baby boomers.
“These are things we should talk to students with because they are going to be in positions where they are going to be supervising people who are older than them, so they need to be thinking about these things,” Dison said. “We need to be modeling that behavior with our students as well.”
Students who attend at least six workshops and have worked at least 240 hours of student employment are eligible to receive a certificate in the SEED program.
The program hosts several free, one-hour workshops a week over the course of the semester.