Coexisting with Four Generations in the Modern Workplace

The modern workplace has seen growth in the 16 to 24-year olds and over 55 year olds.  With people living and working longer, this growth has led to four generations of workers trying to coexist. This may present challenges to management.  According to The East Valley Tribune, “It’s not merely age that differentiates these workers, said AARP officials, but rather how they approach accomplishing different assignments and tasks, as well as how much “work” defines their everyday lives.” 

These 4 generations include:

World War II Generation (aka depression babies) – Those born prior to 1945

Baby Boomers – Those born 1946 to 1964

Generation X – Those born 1965 to 1982

Generation Y (aka the Millennials) – Those born after 1982

According to the Tribune each of these groups has unique needs:

World War II Generation – appreciate a logical approach to work, with clear job expectations that are fair and consistent. This group prefers face-to-face communication rather than phone or email. . .are reluctant to buck the system, uncomfortable with conflict and reticent when they disagree with their boss or fellow co-workers.

Baby Boomers – represent the largest segment of the American work force. There are roughly 77 million Boomers who are service-oriented, appreciate a team perspective, and are motivated workers . . . appreciate personal communication and the telephone, are not necessarily “budget-minded” and are uncomfortable with conflict. In addition, some may put “success ahead of result.” They also insist on phased retirement and health and wellness programs to foster a healthy lifestyle.

Generation X – are independent and creative souls who are adaptable, technology-literate and like to buck the system. They don’t need a boss constantly looking over their shoulder as they enjoy being turned loose to meet deadlines. . .this group enjoys communicating by voicemail and email and is looking for development opportunities and to add certifications to their resumes for upward mobility.

Generation Y – brings to the workplace optimism, a can-do spirit and the ability to multitask, but they are often inexperienced and require supervision and structure. This group, which prefers instant messaging, blogs, text messages and email, has difficulty communicating in the workplace and likes to be spoken with one-on-one.”