Baby Boomers, Gen X, And Gen Y – Workplace Differences

generationsEvery generation is a bit different. We’re different in everything we do from how we dress, how we approach problems, how we view the world, and even how we solve problems. We are also different because times really do change. Throughout each generation there have been new technological advances. Think about it…TV’s and cars weren’t always around. Cell phones, gaming systems, and even debit cards weren’t always around. As each generation changes the world we live in, so must we change with that world. If you’re not one for change that’s perfectly fine because the world will continue to move forward with or without you.

Really the only thing that truly stays consistent is each generation’s views of the previous generation. We all have thought of our parents and grandparents as old fashioned, behind the times, and each generation has its own views on everything from work ethics to change. Even Baby Boomers were at one time flexible, adaptable to new situations, and quick to catch on to new ideas (most youngins’ are). And all older generations will think of the younger generation as incompetent, incapable, unfocused, and unrealistic – until the younger generation proves that change can be good, that we will also adapt and survive. There will always be friction between generations. That’s just how life is.

A few differences between Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y in what they expect and require from companies:

Baby Boomers:

  • Prefer traditional workspaces – cubicles / offices
  • Does not welcome work flexibility or work/life balance trends
  • Respect is based on the position or title
  • Expects to be promoted based on longevity
  • Waits to be told what to do
  • Motivated by pay or bonuses
  • Puts their job first
  • Expects to stay with one job or company
  • Prefers technology to stay the same

Gen X:

  • Expects to be promoted based on performance
  • Values work/life balance, flexibility, freedom, and responsibility
  • Comfortable with diversity
  • Challenges authority
  • Believes respect is earned
  • Motivated by personal satisfaction – personal growth and fulfillment
  • Puts their family first
  • Expects to move around in their job or company
  • Thrives on changing technology
  • Desires frequent job and/or career training
  • Would rather work individually than in teams
  • Values authenticity – they expect change

 Gen Y:

  • Toughest generation to manage (thus far)
  • Tech-savvy, well networked, achievement-oriented, and creative
  • Wants to use their own methods to accomplish goals
  • Better educated than previous generations
  • Come from more two-income and divorced households
  • Thrives on variety, challenges, and value
  • Expect opinions to be heard
  • Driven by accomplishment rather than money
  • Will seek information, advice, and stimulation from various sources
  • Team-oriented with shared rewards
  • Seeks to be mentored and coached – will ask any question that comes to mind
  • Constantly looking for learning opportunities, ideas, and situations

As you can see, each generation is different in their views, especially in the workplace. The workplace communication must adapt to the new generations and their way of thinking. If it doesn’t, then the gap will become quite large and it will become more difficult to bring multiple generations together. This world will change based on the needs, wants, and desires of the next generation…whatever those may be.

1 comment

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