Traditionalist, Boomers, Xers, Millennials and Z’s OH MY!!

Picture of a child wearing a pink sunglasses

For the first time ever there are 5 generations that are actively working today.  This article will not delve deep into the generations or the characteristics of each, I simply want to point out what groups and birth years they cover so we can talk more about how this impacts the workplace.  Below is the list of the 5 generations that are present within organizations today:

  1. Traditionalist (born before 1946)
  2. Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)
  3. Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980)
  4. Millennials (born between 1980 and 1998)
  5. Generation Z (born after 1999)

With this wider spread of workers who all had very different upbringings and life experiences based on when they were raised, they have very different views and expectations of the workplace and what they expect from an employer.  Below are 4 key challenges that occur because of so many diverse generations being present and suggestions to help organizations overcome them.

  1. Company Culture-  The challenge here is that the generations are looking for different things from their employer in regards to what they feel should be celebrated and offered.  As an organization, you have to ensure that your culture is reflective of your mission and vision. Doing a survey of your employees is an excellent way to gauge what their wants/expectations are for how they feel you can improve the culture.  Hosting Company Events and celebrating joyful occasions is a great way for everyone to grow together. These events help teams to grow closer and appreciate each other, regardless of age. These can be simple things such as posting birthdays in a communal area to things like bowling trips for employees.
  2. Communication style- The different generations value different communication styles.  To be successful at leading your team you must understand what people value and communicate that to the team.  The way of the annual review is going by the wayside, feedback must be a daily/weekly/monthly thing and it should be tailored to the person and position.  Each person should try to integrate the other team members preferences into their communication styles. Try to use different meeting formats, style of personal communication and technology usage.
  3. Negative Stereotypes- Lazy, entitled, tech-obsessed, overeager are some terms used by older workers to describe millennials and younger workers describe older workers as difficult to train and stubbornly set in their ways.  Leadership’s role is to identify when there is a dysfunction in the workplace due to these stereotypes and intervening with education when there are problems. An excellent way to help your teams overcome this is with knowledge sharing.  This allows you to utilize the older workforce to mentor the younger generations with their experience and allow the younger generations to inspire older workers with innovative solutions and new ways of working
  4. Cultural Expectations- You have to evaluate and determine is teleworking appropriate, do they have to be at a desk for the full shift.  Some of the generations feel if they are not at the office for their work day then are they really working, but there is the other side of it who are really making organizations evaluate do they really need to be present in order to complete their work.  Do you as organization support and encourage work-life balance. You have to acknowledge the work efforts of everyone on the team even if they are utilizing different work styles. Make sure to foster a work environment that is open and flexible to different ways of working and attitudes

At Leadership Arts Associates we can partner with you to help ensure you are creating and maintaining the company culture you want.  You can reach me at or 717-430-2850.  If you enjoyed this article please follow my blog at

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