Who Are the 5 Generations At Work? #fivegenwork

generations, hr, workplace, carnival

Last week I launched a new podcast series and Twitter hashtag, #fivegenwork where I dive into the discussion surrounding the reality that we now work in offices, companies and organizations that employer 5 different generations. A few weeks ago I was at dinner with a group of professionals who I had just spent the day with talking about the changing workplace and strategies for engagement for employees and candidates, when someone mentioned that they wished I would have addressed how the older folk can work with Millennials. You can listen to my first podcast interview with Jackson Fall, a Millennial freelance UX Designer Developer by clicking here.

Five Generations at Work

Personally, I don’t aspire to the stereotyping of different groups of people based on arbitrary years that coincided with their birth, but I understand the need to organize and label in order to better understand. That need is engrained in our DNA. Think about how we have categorized and classified animals like marsupials which happens to be a topic of discussion with my 7 year old over the weekend.

In 2013, I published and designed this infographic outlining the five generation workplace (seen below). It’s not just Millennials who are entering the workforce, the youngest generation which my 7 year old is included in is just dipping their toes into part time jobs in restaurant, hospitality and retail. While there’s been so much discussion and continues about Millennials, there’s a new generation in town and that’s Generation Z or Zen.

As part of my 5 generations at work series, I’ll be interviewing individuals from each of the generations on my Workology Podcast to talk about what they want in an employer, their likes, their dislikes and what they really think about being stereotyped as a particular generation. Among those interviews, I’ll be talking with a generational expert who can weigh in on the subject of how we work with each other.

We’re living at a time where our lives and workplaces are the most diverse than we have ever experienced which is why it’s more important than ever to focus on building relationships, practicing humility and understanding. It’s only then can we truly be able to see beyond generations, age, race, sex, religion or disability.

Who Are the 5 Generations in the Workplace

· Traditionalist Generation. (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.

· 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.

· Generation X. (Born between 1961 – 1980) These self-reliant former latchkey 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.

· 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.

· 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?

Stayed tuned for more posts, podcasts and conversations surrounding the five generations at work. I’m interesting in hearing your personal opinions and experiences on the subject.



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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.


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