5 Generations At Work

Updated: Jan 9, 2019



Traditionalist: (The Silent Generation) Born before 1945, “The Depression Babies.” Influenced by the Great Depression and World War II.

  • Known To Be: Loyal, respectful of authority, stubbornly independent, excellent work ethic, dependable, and have advanced communication and interpersonal skills.

  • Make up less than 1 percent of the U.S. workforce.

Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964, “The Woodstock Generation.” Influenced by the Vietnam War, the ’60s, and postwar social change.

  • Known To Be: Well-educated, question authority, excellent teamwork skills, and thrive on adrenaline-charged assignments.

  • Make up 27 percent of the U.S. workforce.

Generation X: Born 1965-1980, “The Latchkey Generation.” Products of divorced parents.

  • Known To Be: Independent, family-focused, intolerant of bureaucracy, critical, hardworking, and socially responsible.

  • Make up 35 percent of the U.S. workforce

Generation Y: (Millennials): Born 1981-1995. “The Entitled Generation.” Influenced by technology and doting parents.

  • Known To Be: Highly socialized, loyal, technologically savvy, socially responsible, and require work-life balance.

  • Make up 37 percent of the U.S. workforce

Generation Z: (Linksters): Born after 1995. “The Facebook Crowd.” Influenced by a media-saturated world.

  • Known To Be: Technologically dependent, closely tied to parents, tolerant of alternative lifestyles, involved in green causes and social activism.

  • Make up 1-2% of the U.S. workforce

For the first time in history, five generations are working side by side, each with different leadership, communication and career development styles. So how do employers successfully manage the challenge of integrating this diverse generational workforce?

  1. Accentuate Common Core Beliefs. HR managers and employers shouldn’t focus on what makes these generations different from one another, rather focus efforts on finding the common ground to bring them together. They all share a common belief in family, quality of work, and making a difference. They may be from different perspectives, but a building with no foundation won’t stand for long. Build that foundation on the common core beliefs and shared values.

  2. Collaborate. Older generations have a wide array of experiences, expertise and viewpoints that can be advantageous to the organization. Partner Baby Boomers with Millennials to help embrace each other’s attitudes and work styles to form a hybrid collaborative organization.

  3. Develop a Mentoring Program. One that is not a downward mentoring with Baby Boomers mentoring Millennials, but a 360 Savvy Program. As mentioned in collaborating the different generations so true is mentoring between different generations. Millennials can use their unique technological skill sets to educated and increase proficiencies to speed up work processes while Baby Boomers can show them the ropes as well as give valued advise from their many years of experience.

  4. Understand Difference. Once an organization has accentuated common core beliefs to lay the foundation for shared organizational values, HR must then focus on what each generation values when it comes to incentives and rewards. Millennials value work-life balance personal growth and making a difference in the world, while Baby Boomers value position, titles and salary. As an organization there is no One-Size-Fits-All. Study your employee population and create programs that reward and motivate toward their specific needs. Get rid of the catch phrase “way we’ve always done it”. It’s not an effective strategy and will result in employee engagement fatigue.

The future of each organization depends on the understanding of their workforce to develop one cohesive team made of Five completely different schools of thought. Also important to keep in mind that just because a person was born in a particular era, doesn’t necessarily mean they share the same behaviors of the generation as a whole. This will be a challenge for many employers but a necessary exercise to get the best out of the organization’s most valued asset…. Their Employees.

This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.

To learn more about AJM Associates, click on About Us.

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