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Navigating Generational Differences in the Workplace

Jul 13, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jul 13, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


There are several reasons for the transformation that humankind has witnessed in the work environment; however, the most significant cause of change is the advancement in technology, whose fueling by social factors has brought tremendous outcomes as well. A keen analysis of history provides evidence that only two groups constituted the workplace in the recent past. Notably, the two groups were the ‘know-it-all’ and the ‘old-timers’. The old-timers universally referred to the traditionalists and the individuals who were about to retire, not forgetting the people who fixed their thoughts in the old historical schooling. On the other hand, the know-it-all referred to the youngsters believed to be the intruders of big ideas and enthusiastically destined to move higher the hierarchical administration stepladder (Allahyari, 2000). A reflection of the workplace in the contemporary world portrays a completely different and complicated setup with a mixture of a wide range of factors influencing the classification of workers (Asch, 2001). Surprisingly, the categorization of workers drastically and considerably evolved over a short duration to come up with the current five generations that work together for the success of the management in charge. The five generations include the employees born before 1945 (the traditional generation), those born between 1946 and 1964 (the baby boomers), workers born between 1965 and 1980 (the generation X), those born between 1981 and 1995 (the generation Y), and finally a set of employees born in 1995 and beyond (the Linkster Generation). According to (Council of Europe, 1985), there are main historical incidences and events, cultural phenomena, and social trends that influence each of the listed generations. Such forces transform the thought about all things from perceptions and expectations concerning the provisions of the workplace and the behaviors of the workers to the organization’s work ethic and loyalty.


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Generational Distinctiveness

A study by (Allahyari, 2000) on the general factors and characteristics of the five working generations identified unique generational features that influence working styles, communication styles, and team conduct. Assuredly, understanding the distinction or contrast between the groupings of the generational workers can be very fundamental in avoiding conflicts in the work environment (Council of Europe, 1985).

Generational Groups and their Differences

The Traditional Generation

The traditional grouping consists of the sort of internal marketing and the interactive marketing. The service triangle is premised that when organizations attend to their employees born before 1945, and characteristically referred to as the ‘depression babies’. This category of staff members is highly influenced by World War II and the ‘Great Depression’. The workers seem to be having quality traits that distinguish them from other generational categories of employees; for instance, they comparatively respect the authority, they are loyal, stubbornly autonomous, dependable, produce excellent work, and have advanced interpersonal and communication skills (Council of Europe, 1985).

The Baby Boomers

The set of generational employees consists of persons born between 1946 and 1964, and generally known as the ‘Woodstock generation.’ Unique events influence and define the group, which include the postwar social change, the 60’s, and the great Vietnam War. They as well have exceptional and imitable characteristics, for example, outstanding solidarity skills, well educated, query management, and authority, and they thrive superbly on assignments that stimulate adrenaline (Parent, 2013).

The generation X

The workers classified under this category are persons born between 1965 and 1980. People know as the ‘Latchkey Generation’ and jokingly refer to them as the products or creation of separated and divorced parents. Their traits are distinguishable to people who are not part of the workforce for reasons that; they focus on family matters, they are independent, do not tolerate bureaucracy, are socially responsible, are hardworking, as well as critical in all mannerisms about the workplace (Schell, 1994).

The generation Y

The group is composed of workers born between 1981 and 1995. Universally, they are common in the public domain as the ‘entitled generation’; what’s more, evidence suggests that their affectionate and devoted parents, as well as the technology, play a tremendous responsibility in driving and influencing them toward work. Their uniqueness is unquestionable as they are loyal, highly socialized, socially accountable, technologically able, and often need to balance between work and life (Schell, 1994).

The Linkster Generation

This is the last set of employee generational categorization at the workplace and includes all individuals born in the year 1995 and beyond. They are uniquely distinguished from the other groups by the name ‘the Facebook crowd’. The media that has saturated the world presently highly influences them, more specifically the social media. This group is technologically autonomous and has close ties to parents; consequently, it easily tolerates substitute lifestyle, engages in green causes, and heavily link itself to societal activism (Brayne, 2010).

Managing and Working With Diverse Generational Groups

Working or managing divergent generational groups may not be an easy task in a workplace environment, and there are proposed tips offered to resolve conflicts between the different generational groupings if they so happen. Since the groups are dissimilar in their characteristics and interests, it would be tedious and complicated to manage a set of workers composed of the entire mix. Nevertheless, the following tips would guide a manager in developing relevant skills of performing the task without much hassle.

Understanding of Work Styles

Unfortunately, the baby boomers and the traditional generation dislike passionately the idea of being micromanaged. On the contrary, Generation Y and the Linksters yearn for particular, detailed instructions concerning how things should work, and are used to hanging around authorities (the United States, 2009).

Regarding Generational Principles or Values

Ideally, every generation has a distinctive set of principles or values that they dearly protect; nonetheless, if conflicts happen in a working environment mixing the groupings, then it would be a threat to the values put in place. A good example is that of the baby boomers who value working in teams, engaging in cooperation, and buying-in. Another instance involves generation X’s desire to make independent decisions and moving on, if possible, singly.

Sharing of Perceptions

If a conflict erupts between workers of two or more generational groupings, sharing their perceptions can help them learn or gain knowledge a great deal. A person of the traditional generation may be the lacking of manners and formality of the generation Y’s individual as disgusting and unpleasant. At the same time, the generation Y persons may have a feeling of repulsion and revolt if the older workers fail to respect their input and opinions (the United States, 2009).

Finding a Generational Suitable Fix

Douglas (2002) supposes that it is very hard to change or transform the experiences of people’s lives; however, it is possible to function with a sort of expectations and attitudes that arise or result. For example, a boomer with extensive knowledge might see a person of Generation Y face frustrations while performing a task due to lack or deficiency of experience; as such, the boomer can turn into a mentor due to his sense of prerogative.

Finding or seeking Commonality

Persons in the traditional generation and generation Y value stability and security while the traditional group and the boomers are often resistant to change. Nevertheless, both sets of generations value development and training. Generation Y and Generation X workers value very much flexibility at the workplace, as well as the balance between work and life. Linksters and boomers, on the other hand, are often contented with substitute lifestyles and diversity. Lastly, Linksters and the generation Y are proficient in technological matters and show commitment to socially accountable policies.

Learning from One Another

It is indisputable that every generational group has valuable and principled lessons that can transform and teach the subsequent. For example, the boomers and the traditional generation are rich in tricks and full of knowledge regarding their employment that any young employee would desire to have. On the other hand, Generation X workers are famous for their meditation and fairness abilities, while the generation Y employees are wizards on matters of technology. The Linksters, on the contrary, are specialized on issues regarding marketing, business trends, and future workplace (Szporer, 2012).

Converging Trends that have constructed the Five Generational Groups of Workers

A mixture of trends has played an imperative role in creating the current five generations of a workforce. Such patterns include but do not limit to the following (Wilms, 1996):

• Persons having longer lifetimes and living actively, as such they are capable of working for a longer;

• Individuals, for example, the baby boomers, and the traditional generation being in a position not to retire because of their financial positions and capabilities;

• Persons in the groups such as the baby boomers and the traditional generation anticipating and showing a willingness to work up to old age since work has played a significant role in defining them for years;

• The baby boomers providing financial support to their millennial kids already considered adults, who regarding age are in their late twenties and even thirties;

• The duration between generations potentially becoming diminutive or very small as the rate of transformation or change augments in the fields of communication and technology usage;

• All these factors or trends work together to create one workforce of several generations

Challenges Facing a Multigenerational Workforce

Since various workplaces have multiple and different challenges in the contemporary world, it is always important that the multigenerational employees work hand in hand for the vision and strategies of the organization to be attainable. The newcomers comprising of the younger generation, the middle age group already established and holds a better part of the management responsibilities, as well as the generation of senior and older executives aging thirty to forty years in their careers, should all harmonize the working environment to minimize the possibility of conflicts. All these groups with the entirety of their generational distinctions can result in frictional relations amongst bosses and colleagues (International Labor Conference & International Labor Office, 2004). The current workplace is not different from that of the past decades, taking into consideration that all the parties of generation X, generation Y, and baby boomers co-exist in one workplace. However, as a majority of the boomers work beyond retirement age, and the technologically knowledgeable millennial individuals continue grading and joining the workforce, the bleak disparities in the principles and values, work mannerisms, and communication styles of every generation become more pronounced (Szporer, 2012).

Since the postmillennial groups are swiftly coming closer to college-age, other imminent generations might be joining the ranks soon. If so, happens, the five generations workforce will soon become another norm in the workplace. Therefore, leaders and managers should be ready to handle the anticipated challenge of incorporating fresh members of staff while at the same time respecting the experience and seniority of the older employees. As the new generational groups will be joining the workforce, an adaptation period will be necessary on either end (International Labor Conference & International Labor Office, 2004).


Style of Communication

There are significant differences in the preference of the communication styles between the younger and the older generations. Generation Y prefers tweeting, texting messages, and sending instant messages as strategies of communicating. On the other hand, generation X and the baby boomers often prefer emails and phone calls. Distinguishably, the sort of younger workers like using abbreviations, colloquialisms, and unofficial language in communication. Older workers, in particular, instances have a habit of communicating to the senior management with much formality as they equate that formality on the communication. However, if not offered the same formality in return, they may as well interpret it as a lack of respect (the United States, 2009).

Negative Stereotypes

Some terms often attach to the thoughts of older employees immediately they think of the millennial generation. Such terms include lazy, technology, entitled, over-enthusiasm, and obsessed. Generation Y workers are not the only victims of these stereotypes since the baby boomers at times get the perception by younger employees as stubbornly set and hard to train in their ways (Douglas, 2002).

Cultural Anticipations or Expectations

As the distinctive place of work changes in keeping up with the transforming work trends and technologies, the health care, cultural factors have a strong influence on patients’ and families” decisions. Some cultural expectancies have subsequently occurred as well. The transition can be particularly harsh for the older generation of workers, who accustom to having functionality or performance deliberated by the length of time spent on taken at their working desk. On the contrary, the majority of the younger managers do not value the time spent in the office as much as they do appreciate the results that the work did produce. Also, generation Y sets higher values and expectations on a healthy balance between work and life (International Labor Conference & International Labor Office, 2004).

Recommendations for Managers

A management team and its leaders that can motivate, understand, communicate, train, as well as, retain four to five dissimilar generations at a similar time are desirable to all the owners of organizations and companies. It is not important whether an individual is in healthcare, retail, finance, or technology since the working together of various generations in harmony is becoming a mission-crucial skill. Most managers may naturally not have the skill-set of cross-generation, although if developed through practice and learning, it can result in the formulation of a comprehensive and significant leadership plan in an organization. For this reason, leaders and managers should learn more concerning generational kinetics, which will make them more competent and aware of the innovation, teamwork, and desire to drive functionality and performance (Douglas, 2002).


Probably, a majority of the younger workers comes from comparatively stable families where both parents are working presently or were working in the past, and, therefore, a greater premium is on a course on the balancing of work and life. The best way leaders and managers can approach the issue of the challenging multigenerational workforce are by allowing individuals to function or work in styles that they prefer and believe suit them well. As well, the entire staff, led by the management team should acknowledge and appreciate every team member, despite the consequences of their working styles. Because everyone in the working environment loves recognition and appreciation for the assignments or tasks, they execute, as well as having access to resources they require and have feedback delivered appropriately, each human in the workplace must receive the honor for the contribution they have made to the group. For significant change and progress to happen in the workforce of multigenerational groups, elements such as openness and flexibility concerning the factors of each age group are crucial. Every age group introduces their own sort of cultural norms and skills; therefore, an efficient staff should be the focal point of diverse personalities, generations, and aptitude, all converging mutually in the direction of a common goal. Assuredly, that is the merely approach an organization will make sure they are introducing new viewpoints too often familiar troubles.


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