It’s one thing to recognize that generational differences exist but it takes conscious effort from management to use those differences effectively and bridge the gap between generations of workers. The best approach for training across a multigenerational staff is to create an environment where knowledge is openly shared and easily accessed instead of being guarded. To do this, employees must be genuinely interested in helping each other learn and grow.
We’re all unique individuals, but there are certain traits that tend to define members of specific generations.
“The key with any of these generations or any employer: You want to engage them,” Ganz said. “Understanding the behaviors, the motivators of teammates and coworkers and employees is vital. It’s absolutely vital.”
Baby Boomers (1946-1964): The product of the post-World War II baby boom triggered significant social change, but as a group, they are extremely career-oriented. They tend to believe more hours equals better performance, and they’re typically in charge because of their age. More than any other generation, they expect job feedback from a 360-degree perspective—boss, peers, and subordinates. They are the original workaholics, Ganz said.
Generation X (1965-1984): Ganz said my generation is the best-educated, most independent, and most skeptical. We’re next in line to step into leadership positions as Boomers age out. We tend to consider ourselves free agents rather than company loyalists. We’re extremely goal-oriented, but that really means personal as opposed to company-mandated aspirations. We led the dot-com boom, but we’re not digital natives.
Millennials (1984-2004): This is the generation that doesn’t really have a concept of life without the internet, and one of their greatest fears is boredom. Ganz said that’s partly why Millennials are so team-oriented; they’ve been sharing information about themselves on social platforms for most of their lives. They have a strong sense of social justice, and they want the companies they work for to support causes they believe in. They value diversity in the workplace, and they’re always looking for new challenges.
Generation Z (1997-2012): This generation has been raised on the internet and social media, with some of the oldest finishing college by 2020 and entering the workforce. Gen Z grew up with internet technology around them, including streaming platforms and other forms of on-demand entertainment. Digital-first forms of communication (IM, Zoom, Text, etc.) have already infiltrated American workplaces. Gen Z is sure to influence future communication patterns—though they may revolt against the always-on culture and help regulate the constant flow of information. Gen Z’s have been lauded for their activism on human rights, climate change and a general desire to lean into activism. Workplace culture is likely to lean more toward Millennial preferences until Gen Z joins the workforce in larger numbers. Gen Z grew up with WiFi-enabled cell phones and social media. They are the first generation to have experienced the “Always On” phenomenon associated with constant online connectedness from childhood.Various forms of clinical research have concluded that for certain activities, Gen Z has an 8-second attention span. Millennials have a 12-second span. As Gen Z enters adulthood, their actions and choices will continue to be influenced by economic forces outside of their control. Whether the cohort eschews formal education and the accompanying student debt remains to be seen. Despite the hoopla and stereotypes of Millennials and Gen Z, the two groups share some similar characteristics that are likely to shape the economy as a whole.
Generation Alpha (2012-2025): Every nine seconds, a member of Generation Alpha is born in the United States. Every week, 2.5 million members are born worldwide. By 2025 — when one age group gives way to another — Generation Alpha will be nearly 2 billion members strong across the globe, according to social analyst Mark McCrindle. Members of Generation Alpha are often the children of millennials and the younger siblings of Generation Z. Comparing Generation Alpha versus Generation Z— much like the groups’ members themselves — are still developing. However, if current trends hold, Generation Alpha kids will be more racially and ethnically diverse than their Generation Z counterparts. Members of Generation Alpha will also be more likely to go to college, more likely to grow up in a single-parent household and more like-ly to be surrounded by college-educated adults. While members of both age groups have grown up with technology at their fingertips, Generation Alpha kids have a key advantage. “They are the most materially endowed and technologically literate generation to ever grace the planet!” Surrounded by technology from the get-go, this group views digital tools as omnipresent — not just a trendy accessory. Growing up logged on and linked up — aided by the likes of Siri and Alexa and engrossed in videos and all things visual — can have its advantages, including greater digital literacy and adaptability. But a childhood defined by technology can also create challenges, such as shorter attention spans and delayed social development.