Generational Differences in the Workplace

December 4, 2013 0 comments General

multi-generationalHaving a “digital native” and a “rotary native” collaborate together in the office happens everyday. That said, differences in perception, approach to work, and communication style can sometimes leads to conflict and misunderstanding.  Ernst and Young conducted a survey to gauge workplace perceptions of the generation gap. The survey findings posted in a The Economist will surprise you: “Baby-boomers, born between 1946 and the mid-1960s, are not slacking off as they age; they are seen as hard-working and productive. The middle ranks of Generation X-ers, who might be expected to be battling their way up the corporate ladder, are viewed as the best team players. Opinions on the youth of Generation Y, also known as “millennials”, are less surprising: good at tech stuff but truculent and a bit work-shy.”

This Forbes article looks at the communication style of multiple generations and how the disconnect can be frustrating in the workplace. A Millennial may feel they are being efficient multi-taskers by texting to solve a problem while in a meeting. Meanwhile, a Baby Boomer might solve the same problem with a phone call or face-to-face meeting. With workplaces becoming less formal than they were 30, 20, or even just 10 years ago, flexibility in communication is great, but ground rules and expectations defined by an organization are helpful as well.

Regardless, multiple generations in the workplace are nothing new and when Millennials are in their 50s and 60s they’ll face the same issues Boomers deal with today when yet another young generation edges into the workforce.

What conflicts or triumphs have you seen in the workplace around generational differences? Let us know in the comment section of this post!


Image courtesy of Ambro at

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