Dr. Colleen Batchelder

How You Can Profit From 4 Different Generations In The Workplace

man and woman having discussion about work

As younger generations enter into adulthood—and into the workplace—they bring their experiences with them, shaping both how we work now and what they expect from future employment. This article explores some of those changes that are prevalent within the workplace now and what’s to come. Let’s start off with the baby boomers!

Baby Boomers | 1946-1964

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This generation witnessed the Civil Rights Movement, protested against the Vietnam War, and fought for Feminism to be a household name all within their teen and young adult years.

When they entered the workplace, they demanded change from the bottom up. And in many ways, they moved the pendulum forward.

When Boomers first entered the workplace scene, they were idealists who wanted their utopian world to become reality. They sought to increase female leadership, make companies more diversified, and live a life of peace, love, and unity. However, they also grew up with the expectation that activism and adulthood could not go hand-in-hand.

Protest signs were replaced with suits and ties.

Boomers tried to make a difference in their 9-5, but at the time, they didn’t see how their crusade for revolution could come to fruition in the business world. In the end, they became as corporate as their parents. After all, father knew best.

Related: 3 Things Every Business Should Do To Succeed With Millennial Customers

Generation X | 1965-1983

Welcome to the middle children of generations!

Now, Gen X isn’t invisible, but in many ways, they’re easily forgettable. After all, boomers were a huge generation! They were the favorite of their parents and the whole world revolved around the after-war children.

To put it plainly, boomers were the light at the end of a long tunnel––they were the remnants of WWII. And Generation X didn’t have the same pressures that their older siblings did during that period. This is why Gen Xers are the most frequent to feel overlooked and neglected compared to all other generations. They were latchkey kids who grew up to be independent and self-sufficient adults.

This generation differs the most from our next group, millennials!

Related: Looking to mentor Millennials? Here are some tips

Millennials | 1983-1994

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Many within this generation grew up with technology, remember a time when cellphones had antennas, and when the internet took hours even to power up. They had access to AOL, but their tech ability was Napster and Nintendo; not Snapchat and Tik Tok. Even their ability to access Facebook wasn’t available until they turned 18 and/or started college.

Millennials might have been the first ones to text a smiley face to friends, but their entitlement ends there. This generation was hit by one of the worst recessions. In 2008, millennials had to figure out how to pay endless loans and make a living on minimum wage.

Now, this wasn’t exactly a negative. For starters, millennials became the largest generation of entrepreneurs or side hustlers. From an early age, theyunderstand the value of hard work and the power of connections from a free internship.

Those who didn’t enter the world of tech or gig employment went back to college and kept pressing on towards a better career. So, because of the recession, you have a generation that is embedded with some of the highest debt and educated with the top degrees.

Lastly, the new kids on the block.

Related: Is Your Company Generation Z Ready? Find Out Here.

Generation Z | 1995-2012

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Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

This generation grew up in a time of constant change and technology. They’re one of the most technologically savvy generations, and they’re always looking for their next project to satisfy their need for independence.

Gen Z is also always on the go––literally. They often struggle with FOMO because they have access to everything––and everyone. With one click, they can Keep Up with the Kardashians, watch the latest Tik Tok, and upload a viral video within minutes. In many ways, they live in two different worlds––one of reality and one of social media. And for them, both of these environments feel real.

Now, before you start to think that Gen Z is nothing more than addicts to their phones, let me assure you, they are so much more than their virtual platforms. This generation has a desire to make an impact and the audacity to follow through. They also have the ability to summon thousands of their online follows to support a cause and cancel a culture within one click.

Can Everyone Really Get Along?

Yes. And in fact, they need to if the workforce is going to survive and thrive together. There are some very substantial differences between these generations that can lead to challenges when it comes to productivity and personality––but this doesn’t mean you should expect everyone on your team or in your office space not to work well with one another because there’s a gap in age.

The truth is, you can’t expect everyone to be identical. After all, carbon copies don’t make businesses better! With the right management skills––all four generations can work together for a successful workplace.

What are some ways that you bridge the generational gaps in your business?

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As a Leadership Strategist, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, Executive Coach, and National Speaker, I help leaders create companies where Millennials and Generation Z want to work. My doctoral background in leadership and global perspectives also gives me an added edge because I approach generational dissonance from all directions, including from an anthropological, theological, sociological, and ethnographic lens.
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