What are each generation's career drivers and work styles currently in the workforce?
Baby Boomers are the first generation to actively prioritize work over personal life. They distrust authority and large organizations. Their values were shaped by the rise of civil rights and the Vietnam War era. Boomers are optimistic yet responsible for the “Me Generation” moniker. Their career drivers include a strong work ethic and company loyalty, hoping for financial stability through pensions and 401Ks. Their work style tends towards delegating and teamwork, believing you should pay your dues and work up the ladder.
Generation X is called the “slacker” generation and the “sandwich” generation. They question authority but initiated the concept of work-life balance, unlike their career-driven Boomer parents. Gen Xers possess strong technical skills and more independence than previous generations. They prioritize work less, leading older Boomer managers to sometimes question their dedication. However, Gen Xers follow rules and are resourceful, innovative, and driven to develop niche skills that allow them to take on challenges. They are perceived as adaptable and less concerned with long-term job stability, changing jobs readily.
Millennials, or Gen Y, are the first truly global generation coming of age during rapid internet growth and rising international terrorism. They adapt well to change and deeply value diversity and inclusion. Their educational opportunities expanded significantly due to tech advances during their upbringing. Millennials are considered the most teamwork-oriented generation today. They grew up heavily programmed by parents with structured activities, while Boomer parents intensely focused on careers. Millennials are our most optimistic generation.
Generation Z is gradually replacing the retiring Veteran Generation. They are our youngest employees, comprising about 5% of the workforce in 2020 but estimated to rise to over 20% by 2025. Gen Z is highly concerned about financial security. They are more pragmatic than Millennials and thrive when given clear direction through step-by-step coaching and frequent face-to-face communication with leadership. Since Gen Z will make up the largest percentage of the 2025 workforce, paying attention to their needs can greatly benefit companies looking to expand.
This ATE is an excerpt from the course Multiple Generations In The Workplace: Effective Communication To Enhance Diversity, presented by Ingrid Provident, EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA.