Feb 09

Generations Collide

If you are a baby boomer and share your working space with the under-30 crowd I am betting that you think they are not getting enough work done. You may even feel the same way about your younger generation children.

Think again! It is true they may create funny videos during lunch or throw a pizza party when they complete a project. It does look as if they are frequently playing. The truth is they are getting work done; they are just doing it differently and too many of us baby boomers fail to understand that. Besides, generations do not always understand one another which is too bad because this is probably the first time in history where four generations converge in the workplace and that may cause problems.

As members of Generations X and Y face an office of boomers, they usually start to chafe. Too many restrictions. These women and men have watched their parents sacrifice for their careers and they want more balance and freedom. Boomers, on the other hand, do not understand why anyone would leave at 5 p.m. if there is still work to be done.

Good communication among generations is the answer according to the experts. To get the message across you first need to understand the differences among the four generations. My task here is not to give you a stereotypic description but to inform you about the traits and preferences that generally apply to each generation. This may help you understand the other generations just enough to make a huge difference in your work and family.

Members of the oldest generation, born between 1925 and 1946 are called traditionalists. They tend to be hard working, used to taking direction, and have a strict moral code.

Baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 tend to display loyalty to their company, assume that working overtime is a given, and believe that they can make a difference by working together.

Gen Xers, born between 1964 and 1982, tend to care more about autonomy, seek a balance between work and home, and look out for their own interests first.

Generation Y, born between 1982 and the late 1990s, and also known as Millenials, grew up with technology. They are similar to Xers but more optimistic, fun seeking and flexible. They are also the most coddled of all generations.

Of course these generalizations have to be tempered by knowing individual work habits and personalities which may not be related at all to the time slow in which they were born. But just knowing a few things about each generation should cut down on needless family and workplace arguments.

And if you are a baby boomer you have a head start because you have more experience and can more readily manage your life across the generation gaps.


To your successful aging.


Ruthan Brodsky

You can listen to a 30-minute teleseminar I  hosted last week. The topic was aging and what we can do to improve the quality of the later years.  Click on this link to listen to it on your computer.





1 comment

  1. mandy

    This is a great article and gives a good overview of each generation. I am a sales manager for Julie LaTerra Homes, a custom home builder in Charlotte and we see so many of each generation as customers and as emplyees. It is so interesting to see the differences and how to bridge the gap so that all of the generations can work together in one environment. It definitely requires understanding and appreciation.

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