Introducing the 5 Generation Workplace: What Is It?

The 5 Generation Workforce

Celebrating National Employee Appreciation Day

Tomorrow is National Employee Appreciation Day, and yet only a small percentage of bosses and employers are taking tomorrow to formerly recognize, engage and celebrate their employee.  We’ve entered a new era when it comes to bosses and their teams with managers no longer able to engage, motivate and develop employees as one size fits all. When it comes to the workplace, employee engagement and development strategies need to be customized to fit the employee.  Except that you can’t customize an engagement strategy for every employee when you have a workforce of 20,000. That’s where demographics come into play and the five generation workplace. See inforgraphic below.

Understanding Workplace Generations & the 5 Generation Workplace

In just a few short years, our youngest generation, Generation Z will be entering the workforce in part time after school and summer positions.  Hence, the 5 not 4 generation workplace. Because starting in 2015, Gen Z will be 14 with the beginning of the five generation workforce.  Currently, the breakdown when it comes to ages and generations breaks down like this:

  • 13% are Traditionalists born between 1922 – 1943.  These older and more experienced employees have a respect for the rules, are fans of conformity and can be frugal minded. Technology is sometimes hard to grasp as unlike younger generations, they did not grow up with mobile devices, computers or even an electric washing machine.  
  • 26.4% are Boomers born between 1944 – 1960. These workaholics are are optimistic yet silent seeking personal gratification. Calculators and paper calendars are second nature to this age group of the workforce and a former boss of mine who fits this age group was never seen without his note-filled yellow pad. I, however, traded in mine for a tablet and a moleskin which works for me.
  • 19.8% are Generation X born between 1961 – 1980. These self-reliant former latch key kids are results oriented and fun. We’re realists having seen the good and the bad of relationships, marriages and giving your heart and soul to a company. Maybe that’s why we often gravitate to being entrepreneurs instead of an employee.
  • 27.7% are Generation Y born between 1981 – 2000. These tech savvy yet socially conscious whipper snappers are now the majority workforce for the first time in 2013. They are competitive and confident maybe because they have a closet full of soccer trophies. This group is the new gold standard when it comes to courting, recruiting and engaging the employees and future employees of your workplace.
  • 0% are Generation Z born between 2001 to present. It’s hard to think of my 4 year old daughter in the workforce but this future candidate pool are digital natives times 1,000. Figures since my daughter’s first sentence was, “Momma, where’s the iPad?” How will employers grab the attention of these self-reliant and activities oriented employee population?

How is your workplace catering your workplace communication and employment branding to the new majority employee? Is your company ready for the five generation workplace revolution?

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Meg says

    I liked the article and the infographic but I wish there was some more women represented in it. A girl got 1 spot in the 5 generations and she’s stuck with a flash card that says “ABC 123” next to a boy with an iPhone. What gives?

  2. Jo says

    Sorry but I have to question your stats… 13% of Traditionists still in the workplace versus 19.8% of Generation X? How can that be? How many people aged 91 to 70 are there still in the workplace versus those aged 52 to 32? I do not know of anyone aged 70 and over still working…



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