Generational Demographics in the Workplace
As you develop your organization’s engagement plan, you’ll want to take generational differences into consideration to be an effective leader. First, however, you should get a sense of how many Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers, and even Traditionalists you have in your firm. Use a form like the one in this figure to write down your numbers.
Check out these articles for help in working with and leading specific generations within the workplace: How to Work with and Lead Baby Boomers, How to Work with and Lead Generation X, How to Work with and Lead Millennials. For help juggling the various priorities of each generation, see the following table.
Generations at Work
|Baby Boomers (Born 1946–1964)||Generation X (Born 1965–1980)||Generation Y (Born 1981–2002)|
Unimpressed by authority
Enthusiasm for change
Respect for authority
|Work is||An exciting adventure||A difficult challenge||A means to an end|
|Challenges others||To be determined|
|Feedback||Doesn’t appreciate it||Asks, “How am I doing?”||At the push of a button|
|Motivation||The need to feel valued and needed||Do it “my way”
|Work with bright staff
Social interaction through technology
|Engagement strategies||Establish non-authoritarian environment
Offer fresh assignments
Provide developmental experiences
Tap into their expertise
Ease pressure of complex life
|Allow time for questions
Use time-efficient approaches
Keep up a quick pace
Be specific about growth
Allow time to earn their respect
|Provide interaction with colleagues
Bring up to speed quickly
Knowing the traits commonly found among members of a particular generation can help you pinpoint what drives the individuals in your firm. One Millennial woman was incredibly driven by recognition. Money was practically irrelevant to her. So, she had plenty of face time with executives whenever the opportunity arose. On the opposite end of the spectrum was a Boomer in his early 60s, who showed signs of becoming disengaged during a period when layoffs were necessary. Because this man’s various financial responsibilities likely made security a key driver, he was frequently reassured that his job was safe.
The generations do have very different views on authority, teamwork, development, and work–life balance, but everyone — regardless of age — wants the following:
- Achievement: Taking pride in one’s work.
- Camaraderie: Having positive, inclusive, and productive relationships.
- Equality: Being treated fairly in matters such as pay, benefits, and developmental opportunities.
Smart bosses know that to boost engagement, they must build cultures with these three values in mind.