Generational Differences in the Workplace Essay

Generational Differences in the Workplace Essay.


This article attempts to describe the different age groups composing each of the categories of generations in the current U.S. workforce and their distinguishing characteristics. The piece also seeks to analyze how each group’s differing traits may impact an organization. The main purpose of the paper is to teach management how recognizing these differing views may help them to better motivate and satisfy the members of each group.


So who are these different generational groups? The author has broken today’s workforce down into three identifiable groups by birth year.

These groups are Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. They will be described in more detail in the following paragraphs.

The first, and oldest group, are the Baby Boomers. This category includes those born between the years of 1946 to 1964. The Baby Boomers are the largest group and many of them can be found throughout the managerial ranks. They are reputed to be self-absorbed and have a feeling of entitlement.

This group is said to value success, teamwork, inclusion, and rule-challenging. They are open to change and loyal to their employer.

Generation X is comprised of those born between 1965 and 1979. This group is concerned with career options and a balance of work and home life. They seek fulfilling work but are cynical of corporations and government. This cynicism leads themnto being less loyal than their predecessors (the Baby Boomers). Generation Xers are computer literate and demand fulfilling work while still craving a fun work environment.

The third group is Generation Y. This includes those born from 1980 to present (per reports made in 2005 and 2006). According to the author this group is optimistic but realistic, globally aware, and inclusive. They are very technologically inclined and diverse in their attitude. They yearn for a work/family balance and independence though they need feedback from their employer. They are also curious and results oriented. This generation can become disenchanted with presented with entry level jobs for they seek challenges.


The author used a number of other studies to reach his conclusions. The Rokeach Value Survey (RVS) seems to have been the main instrument in gathering information. This study allows participants to rank the measures they find most valuable.


In the “Implications for Managers” section of the paper, the author makes suggestions for how a manager should treat each class. He has used the research to draw his conclusions. His suggestions seem based on the traits and behaviors each group tends to exhibit. For the Baby Boomers he states that they can be motivated with money, overtime, praise, and position. He enforces the idea that this generation is loyal. For Generation X he suggests making work fun and meaningful. He also thinks lending an understanding ear to this group could be helpful. Generation Y needs exciting and relevant work, says the author. Make sure they have opportunity for career advancement. Also a manger should be mindful of their need for feedback.


The main idea of this article is that the difference in values and beliefs of each generation can have an impact on the job. Understanding these differences and how to make the most of them is key to satisfying and motivating each group. The paper seeks to explain these differences, why they tend to occur, and how to use those differences to the employer’s advantage.


One main drawback to the ideas set forth in this article is assuming everyone in each generation holds the same values and beliefs. In this vain, managers may be able to cater to a large majority of employees but can miss satisfying the wants and needs of certain individuals. Although the research may encapsulate certain behaviors and traits of most of the people, there will be variables that it does not take into account.


The author’s conclusions may serve managers well. His conclusions based on the research and following suggestions seem to be based in logic and geared toward getting the most out of and retaining employees. It probably does help to understand how best to motivate others if you understand why they feel the way they do. Although generation and age may not be the only mitigating factor in an employee’s attitude, it seems to be a good starting point.


As stated previously, age (date of birth) can not account solely for a person’s values and beliefs. As in anything else, there are always variables that can skew data. Some variables that are not reflected in the data are financial status, marital status, locale, and a wide variety of other things. However, if it is possible to meet the needs of many while only having to concentrate on a few “one-offs” then these recommendations can only serve to ease a manager’s position.


I am probably one of the “one-offs” but I’ve always marched to the beat of a different drummer. I have, however, been witness to many of these stereotypes. I have worked plenty of jobs where the generational differences were quite apparent. Sometimes the “old-timers” actually relish that name and take pride in it. The difference in attitudes and values can be glaring. I defintiely think it is good that there is information out there to help managers understand these differences and help to deal with them.


Generational Differences In The Workplace: Personal Values, Behaviors, And Popular Beliefs. The Clute Institute, 2009. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. .

Generational Differences in the Workplace Essay