Generational difference at work: everything you need to know

Generational difference at work: everything you need to know

In the last 15 years, scientific research on generational differences has expanded, yet agreement on identifying generations, whether generational identity is genuine, and how to measure it remains elusive (Twenge, 2010). However, just because the construct is still in development does not rule out the possibility of significant consequences in the workplace based on the generational cohort (Campbell, et al, 2015). Lyons and Kuron (2014) reviewed the existing research and discovered differences in personality, work values, work-life balance, career patterns, and leadership preferences, among other factors. Cohorts of generations share comparable recollections of common experiences and occurrences.


Generational cohorts exhibit similar recalls of shared experiences and events, as well as distinct leadership choices, demonstrating that \"generational disparities are a serious diversity issue that companies need to recognize and address\" (Arsenault, 2004, p. 134). Furthermore, even if those on the cusp (birth years on the borderline between two generational cohorts) may not identify with a certain generation, generational identity is a durable construct throughout time (Lyons and Schweitzer, 2017).

In the workplace, the generational gap refers to the differences in behavior and viewpoint between groups of people born at different times. Each generation grows up in a different environment, and as a result, their employment expectations may differ. Members of the silent era, for example, are often characterized as fiscally conservative, whereas baby boomers may have more liberal fiscal tendencies.


The gulf that separates the ideas and conduct of individuals of two generations is referred to as a generation gap. A generation gap is a term that describes the differences in attitudes, behaviors, and preferences between members of younger and older generations. Differences in politics, values, pop culture and other sectors may exist. While generation disparities have existed throughout history, the extent of these differences has expanded in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.



A: There are no generational differences at work

People of various ages have diverse perspectives on the world. But, according to Deal, this isn't the main cause of generational strife. The dispute is more about clout—who has it and who wants it—than it is about age or generational differences. \"Miscommunication and misunderstanding, exacerbated by similar fears and the desire for power, are at the root of the so-called age gap,\," says Deal.

  • The study's most surprising finding, according to Deal, is how similar the generations are in terms of the most important values. The values of all generations are similar. For example, family is at the top of the list for all generations.
  • Everyone desires to be respected. Everyone wants respect, but different generations define it differently. Older respondents defined respect as \"giving my thoughts the weight I believe they deserve,\" whereas respect was defined by younger respondents as \"listening to me, paying attention to what I have to say.\"
  • Leaders must be dependable. The expectations of different generations of leaders are not much different. People of all generations desire leaders they can trust above all else.
  • Change is something that no one enjoys. Older people are thought to be resistant to change, whereas younger people embrace it. These preconceptions are contradicted by research, which shows that people of all generations are wary of change. The amount of gain or loss you stand to gain or lose due to the shift has nothing to do with your age.
  • Loyalty is context-dependent. Younger generations are thought to be less loyal to their employers than older generations. However, the research demonstrates that the amount of time a worker puts in each day has more to do with their position in the company than with age. The more hours worked, the higher the level.
  • Everyone desires to gain knowledge. People of all eras raised learning and development as one of the most important topics. Everyone wants to learn new things and get the training they need to execute their jobs properly.
  • Everyone enjoys receiving feedback. According to the study, everyone wants to know how they are doing and how they may improve.



B: There are generational differences at work

  • In the 1960s, the term \"generation gap\" was coined. The baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, were growing apart in their ideas and opinions from their parents at the time.
  • The six major groups that makeup today's living generations are as follows:
  • The most influential generation
  • A generation without a voice
  • Baby boomers are the generation born between 1946 and 1964.
  • Millennials from Generation X
  • Generation Z is a group of people born between 1996 and 2012.
  • Each generation has distinct qualities in terms of vernacular, technology impacts, workplace attitudes, general awareness, and lifestyles.
  • Understanding the various generations is essential for businesses to determine who they should advertise to and how they should promote them.
  • Employee Age Differences: Employee age differences can cause rifts in the company culture.
  • Communication: The preferred communication patterns of older and younger generations are vastly different. Texts, tweets, and instant chats are the most common ways for Gen Z to connect, whereas older generations prefer emails or phone conversations. Furthermore, younger generations are more likely to utilize acronyms, casual language, and colloquialisms, whereas older generations prefer to communicate more formally. All of these distinctions can lead to major communication problems.
  • Expectations: Older workers are accustomed to arriving at work early, and the number of hours worked reflects their work ethic and dedication. For younger people, the number of hours put in is less important than the results obtained. Working in a shorter amount of time allows younger workers to achieve a better work-life balance. Allowing people to work in their preferred style as long as they produce results is a solid way to address this issue for executives.
  • Each generation's place in history limits its members to a specific set of opportunities and experiences, provides them with \"collective memories\" (cf. Schuman & Scott, 1989) that serve as a foundation for future attitudes and behaviors, predisposes them to a particular \"habitus,\" a way of thinking and acting, and limits their range of self-expression to pre-defined possibilities throughout their lives (Eyerman & Turner, 1998; Gilleard, 2004; Mannheim, 1952; Ryder, 1965).



According to evidence from time-lag and cross-sectional research, the generations in today's workplace differ in parts of their personalities, work values and attitudes, leadership and teamwork preferences, leader behaviors, and career experiences, despite several commonalities. Although these findings should be read with caution, there is a significant increase in individuality between generations, which corresponds to a greater societal trend toward \"individualization\" (Blok, 1998).


A generation gap refers to the disparity in attitudes and worldviews among different generational cohorts. Individual generation gaps can explain differences in worldviews and behaviors observed in persons of various ages. The current living generations are the Greatest Generation, the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z. Businesses typically try to understand the different characteristics of each generation to better design and promote their products and services. Employers employ a variety of strategies to bridge the age difference at work.

Trish Makiwa
This article was written by Trish a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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