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The Four Generations
Understanding differences between the generations is fundamental in building successful multigenerational workplace. For each generation there are particular experiences that mold speciﬁc preferences, expectations, beliefs and work style. Here is a brief description of each generation and their socioeconomic experiences and how they have impacted their work and leadership styles.
The Traditionalists (Veteran Generation)
The Veteran Generation, born between 1925 and 1945, were brought up in a more challenging time with life experiences that included WW II. The economic and political uncertainty that they experienced led them to be hard working, ﬁnancially conservative, and cautious. Organizational loyalty is of an essence and they have advanced with the premiss that the seniority is important to advance in one’s career. They do not like the change, they are not very risk tolerant, have a respect for authority and hard work. This tends to
lead to a command and control style of leadership. This generation set and obey the rules.
The Baby Boomers
The Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, were brought up in an abundant, healthy post-war economy, becoming an egocentric generation. They saw the world revolving around them. Nuclear families were the norm. More than anything, work has been a de-
ﬁning part of both, their self worth and their evaluation of others. Their life style revolves around the fact that they live to work. Balance is a quaint idea but not really a possibility. As such, they see the workday at least 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This is a signiﬁcant tension point
between them and the newer generations, as they expect others to have the same work ethic and work the same hours. The earlier part of this generation followed the “bent” rules set by the traditionalists.
The generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, was the ﬁrst generation raised on “to do lists” and grew up with high rate of blended families. They were also brought up in the shadow of the inﬂuential boomergeneration. They witnessed their parents sacriﬁce
greatly for their companies. As a consequence, they developed behaviors (not values) of independence, resilience and adaptability more strongly than previous generations. In opposition to the hard driving Boomers who live to work, they work to live
and view the world with a little cynicism and distrust.
The Y generation, born between 1981 and 2000, has been portrayed as the next big generation, an enormously powerful group that has the sheer numbers to transform every life stage it enters. They were brought up during the ‘empowerment’ years where everyone
won and everyone got a medal. Raised by parents who nurtured and structured their lives, they were drawn to their families for safety and security. They were also encouraged to make their own choices and taught to question authority. This group was also raised in a consumer economy, and as such, expects to inﬂuence the terms and conditions of their job. As a result, they expect employers to accommodate their ‘consumer’ expectations in this regard. This is the basis for the expecting more style that characterizes this generation. They don’t necessarily see that they should get more, but that an employer should give more to their employees. They were brought up with an ‘empowered’ parenting style and therefore they are not afraid to express it their opinion.
Generation Y (as well as X, to a lesser degree) is also the ﬁrst to grow up with computers and the Internet as a signiﬁcant part of their lives. Constant experience in the networked world has had a profound impact on their style in approaching problem-solving situations.
This generation of worker is coming into the workforce with networking, multiprocessing, and global-minded skills that the traditionalists and baby boomers could not have imagined. The advent of interactive media such as instant messaging, text messaging, blogs, and especially multi player games have generated new skills and styles of collaborating in the generation X and the generation Y to such degree that it has made them different. This ‘always on’ or ‘always connected’ mind-set is at the heart of some of the friction that exists between the generations. The x and y generation is challenged by the rigidity of the eight to ﬁve workdays.