Work-Life Strategies & Solutions

On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy

The Multi-Generational Workforce: Differences & Conflicts

A Baby Boomer says to a Gen X’er, “You should hope that they turn your job into a permanent career position so that you can stay here for the next twenty-five years!”

Gen X’er thinks, Twenty-five years?! Are you trying to scare me off?

It’s amazing how often I’ve encountered such difference in values. Some have argued that these generational differences are merely a function of age and maturity. That is, members of an older generation were more similar members of the younger generation way back when they were that age and, on the other hand, members of the younger generation would bear more resemblance to the older generation when they’ve aged in turn. However, I’m more inclined to side with those who assert that there are real differences between Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y due to differences in degree to which they were exposed to technology as well as the impact of major events during their formative years.

We all know what happens when people who are vastly different from one another are forced to share space for long periods of time. Yes, these differences quickly become grating and turn into conflicts. As a side note, even people who’re similar and get along famously often clash when forced to share quarters for 40 hours per week (*cough* telework now! *cough*). However, back to the issue at hand. The first step towards tempering the situation is, of course, for everyone to come to an understanding of others’ perspectives. To that end, I’ve compiled information to serve as a concise introduction to the different goals, values, and attitude towards work and life exhibited by the generations currently in the workforce: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. Keep in mind that presenters in the following videos are speaking in terms of general trends and that exceptions can be found in every group.

Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y: Multi generational Workforce

The next couple of videos provide a dose of humor. Note that the presenters in the last video are caricaturizing generational differences.

Liquid Leadership Keynote: Funnel Thinkers vs Amusement Park Thinkers

The O’Shea Report: Generations at Work- The difference between Baby Boomers and Gen Y

Finally, Diana Powney’s post, “Workplace warfare: Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y” provides another great characterization of who members from each generation are and the value that each generation contributes to the organizations they work for. Do these descriptions of each generation sound accurate? Why or why not? Share your thoughts!

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2 responses to “The Multi-Generational Workforce: Differences & Conflicts

  1. fathersworkandfamily October 12, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Lynn- I really like this article and think that generational differences do explain a lot about work-family conflict. I think much of our work is well-aligned. At the risk of obnoxiously promoting myself, I recently wrote a piece that fits well with what you wrote http://fathersworkandfamily.com/2013/09/30/work-and-family-a-conflict-of-generations/
    Perhaps there are avenues in which we can collaborate in the futire.

    • Lynn Patra October 12, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      Hi Scott,
      Thank you for commenting and providing a link to your piece! The more quality sources of information, the better I say. Also, yes, I’d like to keep in touch and explore opportunities for collaboration!

      Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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