Generational Differences at the Workplace

Last Updated: 20 Apr 2022
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The article that I have chosen for my assignment is called “Generational differences in the workplace: personal values, behaviors, and popular beliefs. ” It was published recently in the Journal of Diversity Management. The main purpose of this paper was to identify the most significant differences between three generations of present employees: Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y, using popular and academic literature. These differences were then analyzed using the results of the Rokeach Value Survey, which included 5057 interviews with people from every group.

According to the results, the information received from the research was very similar to other widely-spread opinions on this topic. The differences found between these three generations were quite typical and this implies that managers have not only to remember about such age-specific diversity but put a lot of efforts to be able to successfully hire and retain employees from every above-mentioned group. People from these generations usually see the world in a very different way as they have been influenced by different factors during the age of making up of their personality.

That is why they should be managed in specific ways, adjusted to their core values and desires and some of the possible ways are considered in the closing part of this article. Main part: According to Manheim (1953) a generation can be defined as a group of people born and raised in the same general chronological, social and historical context. Nowadays, many companies are faced with challenging problems concerning the rising amount of conflicts in the workplace between people of different age.

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This is one of the obstacles of the generation diversity, that should be treated very carefully as it has an enormous impact on the social life of any company. The article offers us a survey conducted among 5057 employees of various age in order to understand the principal distinctions between three generations, to better realize their core values, beliefs and expectations from life and, what is more important for the employers – their expectations from their jobs. As it was already mentioned in the Introduction these three generations are the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1965-80) and Generation Y (born since 1980).

Baby Boomers present the largest group of employees nowadays. These are people who mostly rejected their parents' values in their earlier years. According to Loyalty Factor President Dianne Durkin "They invented work as self-fulfillment and proving themselves, and have defined themselves by their careers" (ref. № 4). Usually they can be described as self-absorbed, loyal and competitive workaholics. They usually have leading roles in the company, holding top-level management positions. In addition to this they are competent, effective but usually have quite conservative type of thinking and do not like to accept any changes.

Generation X people are mostly very confident and independent, as the environment where they were brought-up had changed a lot. These children usually came home after school alone as their parents were working the whole day. And this was one of the main factors that led to the creation of a freedom-loving and self-reliant generation. According to the article “Managing Different Generations at Work” (ref. № 3) these people view work just as a job. They work to live, not on the contrary and they want to balance their lives. That is why they need to be given freedom and autonomy, maybe some support, but not the guidance.

A clear mission and well-defined goals should be created for Xers. They are very cynical by nature and are usually not concerned with the words like loyalty and trust that is why they tend to change jobs very often. Probably the most interesting generation of these three is the last one – Generation Y, as these young people represent the future. This generation was brought-up on computers, internet and TV programs. They are optimistic, realistic, globally aware and easily accept diversity and innovations. According to the article “Get ready for a new type of worker in the workplace: the net generation” by MarkL. AIch, Ph.

D (ref № 6) the members of the newest generation hold respect for people who can demonstrate expertise and knowledge, but not just thanks to someone’s rang or age. They are more interested in utilizing their expertise and skills, want to participate in decision making and have a need to collaborate and to establish an interconnectivity with others. This may also be confirmed by the article “Managing Generation Y” by Rick Weber (ref № 12) where he states that these people feel great about themselves. And when you think about how to prepare the next generation to move into leadership roles they are already thinking about buying the company.

They also want to learn from others, because they are curious. So the best way to retain these young talents is to spend time in guiding, directing, and supporting them, and giving them the wisdom they cannot get from anywhere else. It is interesting to see some peculiarities in the results of the Rokeach Value Survey mentioned in the given article. According to its results, Family Security and Health are on the first two positions for every generation. Freedom is very important for both X and Y generations, but is quite insignificant for the Boomers.

Gen X’s value for pleasure is higher than others, and Gen Y ranked Independence much higher than two other generations. Other significant differences in ranking preferences include Open-mindedness which has a very low position in the Boomers’ rank. As we can observe now, the results from the survey correlate strongly with a general description of every generation. Thus, we can state that there are some typical differences between Baby Boomers generation, Generation X and Generation Y which should obviously be taken into account by the managers who have to deal with employees from these various groups.

They need to know what their workers want, what they need and how to occupy them as this is essential for the successful and effective work of the whole company. Implications: For sure, there are many challenges created by having multiple generations in the workplace, but if the correct approaches could be found, the goal of creating an efficient, effective and sustainable business model that uses the best qualities within each of the three generations can be achieved. Baby boomers are characterized as loyal hard workers usually taking high positions.

They can be probably motivated by money, promotion options and social approval. Referring to the article “Managing Baby Boomers” by D. Quinn Mills and Mark D Cannon (ref № 8) this generation can be attracted and motivated by several approaches. First, it is important for managers to be sensitive to employees’ needs and interests and provide the variety of challenges and experiences to keep the job interesting. Another good tip is to treat them as professional because Baby Boomers usually consider themselves professionals and want to be respected for their individual skills.

They like to have responsible tasks and have opportunities for further development. Some other steps could be to create individually oriented reward system, to provide opportunities to develop relationships adopt a more participative management style and try to reduce conflict through understanding. The distinctive features of Generation X are their independence, self-reliance and lack of trust. That is why managers should try to make their work more meaningful and fun.

According to the article “Managing our future: The generation X factor” by Gary O’Bannon (ref № 9) managers need to support Xers’ style of thinking, learning and communicating, and respect the unique perspective they bring to the workplace. Maybe Xers should be granted more day-to-day autonomy and enough creative responsibility to imagine problems in their own terms. Here I would like to give an example of a global management consultant company Accenture (ref. № 11) that realized how time flexibility may significantly increase the level of satisfaction of their workers.

For that reason they introduced an idea of Future Leave which gives the employees a possibility once in three years to take 1 to 3 months of self-funded sabbatical and use it as they wish. Some similar steps may be undertaken to satisfy Generation X’s necessity in independence, because it gives them time to rethink their values and feel more comfortable and appreciated. The Generation Y is raised on computers and constant changes in the world.

Therefore they need to satisfy their high ambitions, curiosity and need of innovation. Referring to the article “The Net Generation Takes the Lead” (ref. 10) the trend in the companies should be toward networks, not hierarchies, toward open collaboration rather than command, toward consensus rather than arbitrary rule, and toward enablement rather than control. Learning has to be part of work and these people should always be given the possibility to offer new ideas, to innovate. They should be given interesting and challenging tasks, and in addition to this their opinion should be appreciated as they will never stay in a place where they do not have right to participate in decision-making and add value in the future of the company.

However, simply because people are from same generation does not automatically mean they will all share the same generational characteristics. That is why managers should treat every person individually, based on who this person really is, but not on whom he or she should be according to their belonging to any kind of groups or generations. Only doing that way, the company will be able to manage diversity in a right way.

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Generational Differences at the Workplace. (2017, Mar 26). Retrieved from

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