Four Generations at Work

April 28, 2016


The Silent Generation—Born between 1925 and 1945
The values of these loyal, dedicated employees were shaped by the Great Depression and World War II.

  • Workstyle: Teamwork and collaboration are their hallmarks. However, these extremely private people don’t share easily.
  • Communication: Prefer formal, face-to-face meetings and written communications.
  • Values: Work is the right thing to do; their careers are who they are. They respect authority, believe in paying their dues, and are unhappy when they feel their time is being wasted.

Baby Boomers—Born between 1946 and 1965
The children of the Silent Generation. Their lives were shaped by the Vietnam war, 1960s societal upheaval, and their parents’ need to give them the best of everything.

  • Workstyle: Embrace a team-based approach; dislike the controlling style of their parents
  • Communication: Open and direct. Value face-to-face and phone meetings.
  • Values: Work comes before personal life. A 60-hour workweek? No sweat. It’s the way to move up the ladder. Boomers distrust authority and dislike rules for the sake of rules. Yet they’re optimistic and open to change. 

Generation Xers—Born between 1966 and1980
Born in a time of declining population growth and high unemployment and divorce rates, this generation is fiscally conservative and focused on family.

  • Workstyle: Self-reliant. Possess strong technical skills, resourcefulness and an independent bent.
  • Communication: Informal communication style; prefer email and online chat. Dislike formal meetings; want to be updated regularly on work-related matters. 
  • Values: Gen X questions authority and fear relying on organizations for long-term security. They care deeply about work-life balance and flexible working arrangements.

Millennials, or Gen Y—Born between 1981 and 1995
The tech generation. They grew up with overscheduled lives—and enormous positive reinforcement. They have an optimistic outlook and a desire to improve the world.

  • Workstyle: Prefer to work in groups and teams; committed to team success.
  • Communication: Prefer email and texts. These tech-savvy multi-taskers shine when given access to the internet and social media. They’ve had computers, tablets, and phones their entire lives.
  • Values: Willing to work hard, especially in an upbeat, fun environment. Prefer daily feedback to annual reviews. Want to be challenged; hate to be bored; work best with detailed direction.

Understanding—and respecting—the work styles and values of each generation will go a long way towards more harmonious working relationships across your organization.

BONUS TIP: Learn more about how differing points of view, values, and communication styles can impact our interaction, problem-solving, and decision-making in groups with trainer Pamela Green!

Collaborate and Communicate with Impact Watch the 'Learn It On-Demand!' webinar

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