What Does Each Generation Value In a Workplace?
Welcome back to the Pathway blog; we’re always so happy to have you here! Today we’re talking about generational differences and values. There are currently so many different generational cohorts out in the workforce, spanning a huge range of years. And while many headlines seem to want to pit them against each other, we think that this variety of personalities and experiences can actually be a very good thing!
Each generation has collective experiences that are valid, and blending those experiences and views can be extremely useful in widening your staff’s perspective. Because those differences can be staggeringly wide, however, it’s no surprise that conflicts arise.
Every Generation Can Bring Something of Value
The first step is coming to the understanding that no single generation is better across-the-board than any other generation. Employers, of course, may have a preference toward a certain generation, but it’s important to view their values as equal if you’re going to find success, longevity, and harmony in the workplace.
One of the best ways to do that is to simply be prepared by understanding the general values prioritized by each generational cohort. We’ve rounded up some common values for each of the generations currently in the workforce, and have compiled them here.
Remember: these are generalizations! There will always be outliers who break the mold.
What Each Generation Values in the Workplace
Traditionalists/The Silent Generation: Born between 1928-1945
This generation represents a smaller section of the workforce, but is still very much present, and brings some distinctive values to an organization. People born in this era often put a high value on loyalty — both to the company and the people within it. Because this generation is likely to have overcome multiple economically-difficult times in their lifetimes, security and a diligent work ethic are common. It is likely they will prefer tasks and duties that are “offline” and in-person, rather than tech-heavy work.
Baby Boomers: Born between 1946-1964
People of this generation often have similar values to the Traditionalists, in that they value a hard work ethic and job security. At this range, however, it’s been reported that Baby Boomers appreciate a clear, consistent hierarchy of authority levels that allow for upward movement. They appreciate being recognized for their skills and knowledge and having face-to-face opportunities to share what they know.
Generation X: Born between 1965-1980
Independence is a big theme when it comes to Generation X. At this point in history, professionals tended to display stronger goals toward higher education, self-reliance, and fiscal responsibility. Many workers in this generation are equally comfortable with both technology and in-person interactions and can be very versatile, hardworking employees. This need for autonomy contributes to their appreciation for flexible schedules and work/life balance.
Millennials/Generation Y: Born between 1981-1996
This is currently the largest generation in the workforce. Having grown up in a time of rapid technological advancement and entering the workforce during a recession makes this generation a unique one to get a handle on. Millennials show a preference for flexible work options, technological communication (often for efficiency’s sake), and a desire to have their efforts/results valued. They often feel strongly about having personal views that are in line with a company’s mission.
Generation Z: Born between 1996-2012
The newest generation in the workforce, Generation Z, brings a technology-forward approach and is often quite concerned with authenticity, collaboration, and connection. They can easily adapt to technologies and can inject new life into the way your team connects and works with one another. Because many of their parents struggled during the recession, financial security is a significant motivator. They also appreciate flexible work schedules and options.
Now that you have read about the different generations and the nuances they bring, it’s easy to see that a “one size fits all” approach just won’t work for everyone. While this can make work life somewhat challenging, remember that variety is the spice of life! A homogeneous workplace might make decision-making easier, but your greatest outcomes will come from a group that brings different perspectives to the table.