Search
Advice » In the Workplace» Workplace Issues » The Workplace Generation Gap
The Workplace Generation Gap

The Workplace Generation Gap

In offices across the country, there's a lot of eye rolling going on: Young professionals get exasperated with their older, workaholic colleagues who seem unhappy in their jobs, yet frustratingly stuck in their ways. Meanwhile, older professionals view their younger counterparts as slackers unwilling to pay their dues.

Understanding what drives other generations is the first step toward bridging this generational divide in the workplace, says John Izzo, an author and healthcare consultant with offices in San Diego and Vancouver. "You have to understand that differences in values are just that," Izzo says. "They're not good and not bad. We grew up in different worlds. And at the end of the day, we all want the same things -- to feel respected and valued."

Chuck Underwood, founder and president of The Generational Imperative, a Cincinnati-based consulting firm that studies the generations, agrees understanding is key. "Once you understand any one generation's formative years, you can make sense of that generation's workplace values and beliefs, and the gaps between the generations then tend to shrink," he says.

Here's a look at the events and attitudes that have shaped the four generations currently sharing the current US workplace.

The Silent Generation

Born between 1927 and 1945, this generation started working when managers did the thinking, employees did the work, and organizations were very hierarchical, Underwood says. In this era, employers expected absolute loyalty, and rewards went to team players, not mavericks.

Loyal and hardworking, Silents are excellent mentors to younger generations. "Their generation is distinguished by their skill in building consensus among coworkers," Underwood says. "They are good helpers, good facilitators and good listeners."

The Baby Boomers

Their sheer numbers mean the current 76 million Baby Boomers -- those born between 1946 and 1964 -- have always competed fiercely among themselves for jobs and promotions, Underwood says. They are competitive and assertive but put a premium on ethics and values. Because they tend to be workaholics and define themselves through work, Boomers are the "TGIM," or "Thank God It's Monday," generation, he says. Personal relationships with coworkers are important to them, and they are good team builders.

Unlike Silents who generally enjoyed smooth career passages, "Boomers were beat up by downsizings and rightsizings and may have had several employers or types of jobs," Underwood says. "Boomers bring lots of varied experiences to the workplace."

Generation X

Born between 1965 and 1981, Generation X experienced some of the most difficult formative years of any generation, Underwood says. Xers "came of age when governmental and corporate leaders were lying and cheating and failing." As a result, Xers are skeptical, self-focused and self-protective at work. Having witnessed the layoffs of the '70s, '80s and '90s, they distrust big institutions and "assume that every job is temporary, every job is a stepping-stone," he says.

In addition, because they saw their workaholic parents suffer fatigue, illness and divorce (40 percent of Xers have divorced or single parents), "Xers are trying hard to strike a better balance in their lives," Underwood says. For that reason, professions requiring overtime or varied shifts don't match up well with Xers' desire to work steady shifts, avoid long hours and keep their work and personal lives separate, he says.

The Millennial Generation

Born after 1982, Millennials are the most-supervised generation ever, growing up as overscheduled kids with a plethora of adult-led activities to fill their time. "Millennials have grown up very protected and might be soft in the workplace, especially in combative situations," Underwood says.

After seeing how Gen Xers rose with the tech boom of the late '90s and fell with the bust of the early 2000s, Millennials, whose defining event was September 11, are seeking job security in fields like healthcare. "Millennials have a strong sense of nation and patriotism," Underwood says. "They see occupations like firefighting and nursing to be heroic because of all the visuals they saw surrounding 9/11." They are also actively involved in community service and want to pursue occupations that make a difference.

Expected to rival or exceed the Baby Boomer generation in number, Millennials may be forced to compete and work extra hours to get ahead, Underwood says.

Latest Jobs

Illinois Medical District Commission
Posted: 04/18/2014
Chicago, IL, 60612
Zoup! Fresh Soup Company
Posted: 04/18/2014
Collegeville, PA, 19426
Friedman Electric
Posted: 04/18/2014
Williamsport, PA
Pemberton Truck Lines
Posted: 04/18/2014
Knoxville, TN, 37909
Zoll Medical
Posted: 04/18/2014
Chelmsford, MA, 01824

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile

 
 
 

Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
ArtBistro
Create and connect.
Excelle
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships
Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Education.org
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military.com
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.

Interviewing

100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2014 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2014.1.40.6-310
eTrustLogo