For the first time in the history, four generations are working side by side in the workplace. The diverse perspectives, motivations, attitudes and needs of these four generations have changed the dynamics of the workforce. A little insight into the differences among the generations can help you better understand the needs and expectations of your colleagues in an age-diverse workforce. By learning the motivations and generational footprint of each segment, you can leverage your talents and capitalize on the diversity of your workforce.
PwC [Price Waterhouse Coopers] found out that the Gen-Y forms approximately 62% of our workforce today, so it is important for managers and business owners to plug into their frame of mind and understand their thinking. Remember not everyone agrees on when each generation started, but the dates given below agree with most of the literature.Some generations include two or more subsets which can have different characteristics.
Characteristics of the Traditionalist Generation [> 65years old today]
Born between 1927 and 1945.
Cherish their jobs and are hard workers
Many Traditionalists have worked for only one employer their entire work life
Are extremely loyal to coworkers and employers.
Great team player and works well with everyone.
Almost 95% are retired, some may still be active at board level
Characteristics of the Baby Boomers Generation [ between 45-65 years old today]
Born between 1946 and 1964 and have the largest population of any generation. Born after World War II and before the age of Internet.
In their youth they were open-minded and rebellious
Became more conservative in their 30’s and 40’s.
Job status and social standing are important
Are optimistic, ambitious, and loyal, and believe that employment is for life.
They created the concepts of “workaholic” and “superwoman”.
In organizations: Most are now Senior Managers, C-Levels and key decision makers
Baby Boomers are sometimes divided into 2 subgroups as life experiences, attitudes, behaviours and society were very different in 1964 compared to 1946:
Boomers I or The Babyboomers, born 1946 to 1954, came of age 1963 to 1972
Boomers II or Generation Jones, born 1955 to 1964, came of age 1973 to 1983.
Characteristics of Generation X [ between 30-45years old today]
Gen X was born between 1965 and 1979.
They often had both parents working, were exposed to daycare and divorce, and became known as “latchkey kids”.
They are a well-educated generation and are resourceful, individualistic, self reliant and sceptical of authority.
They are not interested in long-term careers, corporate loyalty or status symbols.
In the workplace they focus on relationships, outcomes, their rights and skills.
They tend to change employment and even careers frequently and will leave a job if they are unhappy.
They often have a “what’s in it for me” attitude.
In organizations: Executives / Managers
Gen-Y forms approximately 62% of our workforce today
Characteristics of Generation Y [between 15-30 years old today]
Gen Y was born between 1980 and 1995 and are also known as the Millennium or Net Generation.
Millennials are very technology wise and are comfortable with ethnically diverse groups: Multi-taskers
They are smart, creative, optimistic, achievement-oriented and tech-savvy
They are optimistic, confident, sociable, and have strong morals and a sense of civic duty.
Gen Y are not brand loyal and the speed of the Internet has led the Net Generation to be flexible and changing in its fashion, style consciousness and where and how it is communicated with.
Have shorter attention span, critical and easily distracted.
They expect great workplace flexibility and are likely to change employers even more frequently than Gen X’s.
They value life/work balance and having fun is very important value in their life
In organizations: Management Trainees / Executives
Understanding the differences between generations is useful in communicating with people from different age cohorts. It is also vital for employers to understand the different generations so that they know how to recruit, train and retain people from different generations. Learning Programs also need to be targeted quite differently for the different generations if they are going to be effective.