The Generational Workforce

I recently completed an online course on "Managing Millennials." I am a member of Gen X. I was always one of the youngest in all of my work groups, but now, we're beginning to hire more of the Gen Y cohort. The work styles and expectations are different among the groups. And sometimes, there is friction.

I've seen a variety of names, and the years for each group vary slightly. Here are the generations that are sharing the workforce:

  • 1927 - 1945 - The Silent Generation, The Traditionalists
  • 1946-1964 - The Baby Boomers
  • 1965-1983 - Gen X
  • 1984-2002 - Gen Y, the Millennials
  • 2003- Present - Gen Z, Gen C (for Click), the Digital Generation

This is the first time in history when there have been so many different groups in the workplace at the same time. Gen Y outnumbers Gen X almost three to one.

Gen X was the most "unwanted" group. There was a rise during their early years in the use of birth control, abortion, day care, and women who chose not to have children. This is the generation with more working mothers and latch-key kids. All of this combined to make members of this cohort more self-reliant.

Gen Y, on the other hand, was the "most wanted" generation ever. They were born during the time of test tube babies, adoption, and surrogate mothers. Older parents were having children, and adoptions were on the rise. This generation has always been over-scheduled and busy with activities. Their parents have always been involved in every aspect of their life. They like constant feedback.

The next group that's coming along is Gen Z or Gen C (for click). This is the digital generation.

It was interesting to see the characteristics of each group and the history/cultural events that defined them. The work styles do vary among the groups.

This will give you a sense of the differences in Gen X and Gen Y.

The generations all come with their preferences and styles, and sometimes, it's a challenge to get all of the members to work together effectively.