Work Styles of Different Generations

Do you think these work styles match your generation? Find out!

Given that many are choosing to work longer rather than retire (or doing so out of necessity), it’s possible to have 3 different generations working together–all with very different work styles. 

Each generation was born and raised during very different times and it’s shaped the way they work. Employers can achieve an amazing team dynamic if they know how each generation works. 

So what do these generations look like when at work? Let’s take a look.

Baby Boomers

(Born between 1946 and 1964)

Boomers were raised to respect authority (though they may not trust it) and are more devoted to work than the other generations. They are disciplined and team players as many of them were shaped by events like the Vietnam War. Work is often their primary measure of self-worth and they are the generation most likely to sacrifice their personal lives for work. 

While most have reached retirement age, a recent AARP survey of 2,001 people born in this era revealed that 63% plan to work at least part-time in retirement, while 5% said that they never plan to retire, some because they like working, others because they need the money to replace lost retirement savings. This was the generation most hit by the crash in 2008 but they are the first to say they’re no stranger to hard work. 

This generation is:

  • Disciplined
  • Focused and goal-oriented 
  • Not tech-savvy 
  • Partial to face-to-face conversations
  • Loyal to one employer
  • Not job-hopping

Generation X

(Born between 1965 and 1980)

Their parents were hit hard financially and many were laid off. Divorce rates were high and because their parents did not, this generation longs for work-life balance. They are more loyal to their family and friends than they are to their employers and have grown up questioning authority. Their desire for work-life balance often earns them the title of the “slacker” generation but they are also more independent than other generations and many were the first of the latch-key kids. 

They are extremely self-reliant and self-sufficient. They are often seen as the forgotten generation so employers working with this generation should make sure to recognize and value their skills. They are more tech-savvy than Boomers but their childhoods were not shaped by screens.  

This generation:

  • Willing to develop new skill sets
  • Willing to take on challenges 
  • Used to job instability 
  • Have strong technical skills

Generation Y (Millennials)

(Born between 1980 and 1995)

Millennials are shaped by technology. Though they did not grow up with devices, they’ve been using it long enough to be confident. They can remember a time before smartphones and witnessed the shift into a technology-reliant society. Millennials are the highly-educated generation and often postpone family-life in order to work. This might be because they have to work harder than past generations to afford houses and families and do not receive the same benefits (insurance, retirement, job security) from work as their predecessors. 

Millennials embrace diversity, value teamwork, and can adapt to change. 

This generation:

  • Is tech-savvy
  • Will sacrifice for work
  • Work long hours 
  • Don’t trust “tradition” 

Gen Z

(born between 1995 and 2010)

Most of this generation is not in the workforce yet but when they are, watch out. Gen Z has had a device in their hand since they were born and, along with the younger end of the Millennials, do not embrace the social media trends the generation before them still rely on. Facebook is out and many don’t even have accounts. When this generation starts buying and working, the market will see a huge shift and employers should be ready to adapt. 

Generational Work Styles In Teams

One characteristic these generations all share is a willingness to work as a team. If employers can learn to recognize that Boomers are hard workers, Gen X is independent and likes to leave by 5, and Millennials will work later and can work from anywhere, they’ll find themselves with a workforce that can take on anything. 

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