Recently I was asked to help with a presentation on age gaps and how they affect relationships in the workplace. With Baby Boomers and their previous generation, the “Matures” heading for retirement, there are new generations of workers with different attitudes toward life and work who are entering the workplace and changing how things are being done.
Keep in mind, these are vast generalities, so they don’t apply in every case. The generations can be defined in these categories:
Matures – born in the 1920s to 1940s, the Matures (also known as the Silent generation, Veteran, or a host of other terms) grew up during the Depression and their views, values, and attitudes were shaped by those experiences. Matures value hard work and believe in putting in your dues to earn what you get.
Baby Boomers – The Boomers were born during the “baby boom” after World War II when the economy was also booming, between the mid-1940s and the mid-1960s. They did not go through the economic hard times that their parents did, and their parents wanted them to have the best of everything, hence the term “Me generation.” Boomers also came of age during the sexual revolution and the birth of rock and roll, so there is an effect there also. Boomers value competition, hard work, success, and if they don’t like the rules, they’ll change them.
Generation X – Considered the “lost” generation, Gen Xers were born between the late 1960s and the early 1980s. With working parents and divorce on the rise, these latchkey kids grew up skeptical of authority. After seeing the crash of the dot-com era, they tend to be financially conservative. Generation Xers tend to value entrepreneurial spirit, independence and creativity, and quality of work and life balance.
Millenials – Born between the early 1980s and late 1990s, Millenials are confident, optimistic, and very technologically comfortable. They only know a wired and connected world, so that is a large part the way they communicate. They value recognition and feedback, and they want to be respected. They like to look at the ‘global’ view and want to make a difference in the overall picture of a project or movement.
For the presentation and to facilitate the discussion, we were each asked to take this quiz:
I have since had a few friends and family take the quiz and it’s interesting to note how many people don’t score into their typical age range. For example, I rated as a Millenial, but by age I’m actually Generation X. A friend of mine is a Millenial in age, but rated as a Baby Boomer!
But I think the most interesting part of all is that since going through this exercise, I’ve been much more aware of people’s differences according to this system, and I find I’m better able to relate to them on that level. I recognize that not everyone my age is into technology, social media, and things that other Millenials like to dig into, and I’m always excited to connect with people who are of my generation who do relate to the Millenial perspective.
I might look more into ways to relate to other age groups in the workplace – I’ve found this particular topic really fascinating. Check back for more blog posts on this!