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THE GENERATION GAME
Why different generations of staff have different
expectations of the workplace, and how this can
influence their propensity for fraud
By Graeme Codrington of Tomorrow Today
Graeme In April through June 1989, Silent Generation (born 1920s –
Codrington students turned China upside down 1940s)
on Tiananmen Square, as tanks The oldest still in the workplace.
rolled over them. In November, They were influenced in their
German students joined the youth by the Great Depression and
celebrations as the Berlin wall came World War II. They tend to be
down. On Christmas day, 1989, the conservative, hard-working and
Romanian dictator, Nicolae structured, preferring rules, order
Ceaucescu, was overthrown and and formal hierarchies. They have
Eastern Europe began to open up. a “waste not, want not” mentality,
The following day, Mikael and hate getting into debt. During
Gorbachev of Russia announced the credit crunch, their concern has
perestroika and banned the been their savings in shaky banks.
Communist Party. In February 1990, Their mortgages are generally paid
Nelson Mandela was released from off and their homes secure, but
jail after 27 years of incarceration their pensions might be in
by the South African government. jeopardy, and this could put
And a few months later, Windows pressure on them to look for get-
was released to the world, rich-quick schemes. They are also a
changing personal computing proud generation, and very
forever. All this in less than a year: unwilling to ask for help.
a true “tipping point” in recent
global history. Baby Boomers (1940s – 1960s)
The generation of children born Baby Boomers are the postwar
critical factor in fraud during the two decades that led up generation - the drugs, sex, and
A
prevention is to these tectonic global shifts in rock ‘n’ roll set who grew up
understanding what power, had their value systems during a time of grand visions.
drives people to it in shaped by those events. They Their idealistic visions – putting a
the first place. Experts developed an air of scepticism man on the moon – all served to
develop profiles of the types of about adult control. These so- energise a generation of young
individuals that have a propensity called “Generation Xers”, are people, who were simultaneously
to commit fraud looking at factors currently entering midlife, and being culturally and socially
including personality, religion, starting to have an impact as revolutionised.
culture and personal decision makers in the workplace. Boomers are passionately
circumstances. Often overlooked Similarly, the Baby Boomers the concerned about participation in
is generation. post War babies born in the 50s the workplace, motivated by vision,
The era in which a person is and swinging 60s are about to start mission and strategy, and care
born has an important influence retirement, but they are more about creating a fair and level
on their view of the world, and on likely to continue working and playing field for all. They love
the development of their value have a desire to continue conspicuous consumption and have
system, which in turn is a key contributing well into their senior created more wealth (and
guiding influence on their years. This emerging reality is accumulated more debt) than any
attitudes. Understanding a entirely predictable given their other generation, ever. And they
person’s generation is an value system. are in the most difficulty of all
important part of decoding their There are currently four generations during this economic
behaviour and their propensity to generations in the workplace – downturn. They are also
fraud. more than at any time in history. financially “sandwiched” by ageing
20 • RETAIL FRAUD
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