Research shows that no clear agreement exists on whether generational differences exist. Jones (2018) acknowledged the widespread belief in generational differences but called for further research to test the predicted stereotypes of different generational cohorts. Perry (2015) suggested that some limitations in current research on generational differences could be addressed by future research but also questioned the assumption that generational stereotypes exist. Overall, the papers indicate that generational differences are a topic of debate and require further investigation.
Related: Multiple Generations in the Workforce
Below I share some of what is known about generational differences and their impact on work outcomes.
- There is no significant difference in work ethic between different generational cohorts. This finding contradicts the common stereotype that older generations have a stronger work ethic than younger generations. The study used a sample of 105 published studies.
- Generational membership has little to no impact on job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and turnover intent.
- There are some generational differences in work values, but person-organization values fit is important for all generational groups.
- Generational membership has a small impact on workplace behavior, with Baby Boomers exhibiting fewer job mobility behaviors and GenXers being less likely to work overtime.
- Generational differences in work values exist but are influenced by culture and life stage.
- There are no significant differences in academic achievement between first and second-generation immigrant youths.
- Millennial workers generally have higher expectations than their non-Millennial colleagues, but the importance ranking of the various dimensions is largely similar across generations. These findings held even after controlling for age, work experience, and job tenure effects.
- There is no strong connection between which generation you belong to and how well you do at work. Sometimes, there's no connection at all.
- Younger people often get treated unfairly because of their age, making them feel bad. This study examined how people think about other people of different ages in the workplace. They found that feeling good or bad can affect how they act towards that person.
It seems there is insufficient empirical evidence to support the idea of generational differences in the workplace. Avoid relying too heavily on this idea in research and practice. Therefore, it may be wise to approach this topic cautiously and not rely too heavily on assumptions about generational differences when making decisions in your organization.