61. Five Generations Walk Into an Office

For the first time in history, there are five generations in the workforce…yes, five! And while this might cause some struggles with communication (ahem…did someone say mute?), and possible differences of opinion, it turns out that we all want many of the same things. Yep, we’re talking about ease, meaning and joy.


In this episode of Crina and Kirsten Get to Work our hosts consider the impact of five generations of humans on the workforce – yes 5!! Workers from their early seventies until their late teens.  In their quest for ease, meaning and joy at work and at life, let’s dive into what this means for us!

The five generations in the workplace include:

  • Traditionalists – those in the early seventies or later.  These folks are shaped by the Great Depression, World War II, radio and movies.  They are motivated by respect, recognition, and providing long-term value to their employer.  Their communication style is personal.  Their worldview values obedience over individualism, age equals seniority and workers move up the ladder.  These people are respectful and loyal.
  • Baby Boomers are in the mid fifties to early seventies.  These folks are shaped by the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and Watergate.  They are motivated by company loyalty, teamwork and duty.  The communication style of these people is varied – face to face, person, phone – whatever works.  Their worldview is that achievement comes after paying one’s dues; and sacrifice equals success.
  • Generation X are folks in their early forties to mid fifties.  They were shaped by the AIDS epidemic, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dot.com boom.  They are motivated by diversity, work life balance and their own personal-professional interests rather than company interests.  Their worldview favors diversity, they are quick to move on if the employer fails to meet their needs, resistant to changes at work when it impacts their personal  interests.  Their communication style is also what is most efficient.
  • Millennials are folks who are twenty-one to forty.  They were shaped by Columbine, 9/11 and the internet.  They are motivated by responsibility, the quality of their manager and unique work experience.  Their world view is seeking challenge, growth, and development; a fun work life and work-life balance; likely to leave an organization if they don’t like change.  Their communication style isIMs, texts, and email. 
  • Generation Z are folks twenty and younger.  They were shaped by the Great Recession technology from a young age.  They are motivated by diversity, personalization, individuality and creativity.  Their communication style is IMs, texts, social media.  They are self-identifying as digital device addicts; and value independence and individuality.

See [Infographic]Generational Differences in the Workplace [Infographic]

Lots has changed for some of these folks.  There are more women in the workplace, less religion, fewer veterans and less people who are married.  How Millennials today compare with their grandparents 50 years ago

It turns out that we can make gross generalizations about each other – see above – :-)!  And it also turns out we make even more assumptions about how others think of us.

We all want the same four things:

Working for someone who care about employees well-being

Ethical leadership

Diverse and inclusion of all people

FInancial stability

Tune in and learn how our alikeness is more important than our differences and how our differences create more ease, meaning and joy at work.

And more good reads:

4 Things Gen Z and Millennials Expect From Their Workplace

Just How Different Are Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers at Work?

Generations in the Workplace

Managing People from 5 Generations

How Millennials today compare with their grandparents 50 years ago