The Generational Gap in the Workplace

Entering the workforce for the first time can be a bit scary. Once you clock in on someone else’s time, you have very little control if you want to keep your job. Normally you are trusted to follow the company code and uphold the company’s standards. In other words, follow the rules, offer your best customer service and be kind to whomever you interact with. Easy, right? Well, it should be.

There are many challenges we may face in our career: performance issues, communication problems, low motivation and job satisfaction…but one thing that has held me still is the generational gap in the workplace.

There are currently FIVE generations present in our workplace:

  • Traditionalists—born before 1946
  • Baby Boomers—born between 1946 and 1964
  • Generation X—born between 1965 and 1976
  • Generation Y, or Millennials—born between 1977 and 1997
  • Generation Z—born after 1997

Workplace diversity is GOOD and is a strong sign of a balanced work environment. We ALL hold unique backgrounds and perspectives so we each bring something to the table. However, it can lead to conflict. How do you manage the varying communication styles of the different generations?

Although I consider my work ethics very traditional, I am considered a millennial because I was born in 1994. In my current position, it is sometimes difficult for me to connect with baby boomers or a generation x’er because the population in the workforce for both generations are starting to decline. In fact, by 2024, about 25% of the workforce is projected to be over the age of 55.

Personally, I feel there is a preconceived notion that anyone born after 1977 are inadequately incapable of performing a superior job. This notion makes it challenging for the younger generations to thrive in the workplace. There are many trainings and seminars to combat the complex nature of the gap, but all in all- the gap exists and will forever exist.

What are your thoughts on the generational gap?

Sources:

https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2018/02/26/handle-5-generations-workplace/

https://www.deputy.com/us/blog/the-generation-gap-how-to-bridge-the-gap-in-the-workplace

 

 

 

24 thoughts on “The Generational Gap in the Workplace

  1. Right you are again, I made my money and got out early just after 9-11-01. Perfect timing, spent too much time in airports and on airplanes anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aaw you are like my baby sister 🙂 My youngest brother is born 1995. He has the same issue like you, he is the youngest in his workplace 🙂 🙂 My thoughts about generation gap in workplaces – it can be an advantage or disadvantage. Depending on the workplace. As a nurse, having veterans working with us feels soo much good. They have seen everything and when emergency comes they are there to guide the group.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very insightful! Thank you for sharing. You’re definitely right– there are advantages and disadvantages for ALL generations in the workforce. I like how you use veterans as an example. They definitely have seen a lot of good and bad in the world. I thank the older generations a lot for the wisdom they give me. I learn from the older generation constantly. I wonder if they learn from us? Aside from technology, i wonder how they feel about our values/missions in life.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh trust me they learn a lot from us. And they learn that we are so much better than their own kids. lol but really, they always complain about their kids, and they will say I wish my daughter is like you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad that I work in a place where they hire based on potential rather than experience or anything like that.

    So although you do feel the difference in experience and the gap in age as well, the team is so supportive and helps each other out

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think we just need to be open and understanding in the work place. Younger people may feel as though they are being judged, but older people sometimes feel like they are being pushed out and not wanted. Communication is a beautiful thing, but most of us just don’t use it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your insight, Michele. I appreciate it a lot! I think you are right, I do feel judged in the workplace. And you hit it spot on about older people feeling unwanted…these are both very true statements. Communication works beautifully when both parties are open to seeing the other side of things. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I often find myself holding back a little when I give my kids advice about work, because I feel their experience will be in a completely different context than mine was. I’m not sure how relevant my perspective is anymore. I don’t mean this as good or bad, just a different.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a really great blog post! You draw such important points about the communication gaps that exist between generations. When I was young, I just wanted everyone to like me and I just did everything that I was told. I wish I could have given myself the confidence that I have now as a 42 year-old woman. I belong to Generation X and have a long way to go before retirement. I think you may find a good bridge between the Baby Boom generation and Millennials through Generation X as we lived through very little technology and then gained technology in college. I think we navigate both worlds, but we can pose a cold front because we are work obsessed. I am so into my work that it is hard to draw me away from it. I work so hard because my children have disabilities and my time is so limited, but I love embracing Millennials and “mothering” them even though not all of them probably like it. I am not stupid so I know I can learn a ton from Millennials and I think many Generation Xers know this as well. I think it is important for persons like yourselves to “buck” the stereotypes and write about why those stereotypes are not true or the way that you look at the world. I think the older generation is anxious to know you and communicate with you. I just think sometimes we don’t always understand. I still don’t understand emojis and what they mean, but I am learning. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your feedback! I greatly appreciate it. It’s true when you say that xer’s eventually gained technology. I notice that xer’s are pretty savvy with technology; much more than boomers of course. I imagine you have similarities with boomers just as millennials have similarities with xer’s. I agree 100% when you say the older generation is anxious to know us. I get this vibe at work a lot. I work in a professional setting around all different types of generations and the boomers are skeptical. They shouldn’t be, but they are. LOL my mom loves using emojis. she was born in 1964 so i guess she is a boomer but she carries a lot of Xer traits too. Anyway, thanks again for your feedback, it’s always nice to know how others feel on this subject!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am on the other side of the generation gap. I am 67 and find myself subtly, silently, being moved aside for younger, more agile and younger employees. Having said that, there is this misconception about “millennials”..that they don’t work hard or work at their own pace or other nonsense. Every generation has something to offer — we need fresh outlooks, fresh motivations, fresh points of view. And everyone has to learn. Whether 20 or 50 or 60 you are never too old/young to learn. My son, who is 35, says he can’t wait for millennial to run the world so it can finally get back on track!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Claudia, thank you so much for your input! It means a lot to me. I am trying to understand the baby boomers and the xers in the workplace. I take my work sooo seriously and I work so hard! I’ve gotten so far in my career at such a young age and I know there’s much to come. You are absolutely correct— you are never too old/young to learn! I will take your advice into work tomorrow. I really want to connect more with the boomers and I want to show them I am not entitled but rather hard working and eager to learn. We have so much to offer, and you all have so much that you gave us!

      Like

  8. It’s pretty bad here in the Philippines, especially in locally-run companies.

    See, the Baby Boomer and Gen-X generations hold the reins of power here. Coupled with the skewed notion of “respect” (more like subordination) prevalent in Philippine culture, you have an immovable and top-heavy management that isn’t open to new ideas, forces employees to toe the line, and shoots down suggestions as criticism.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Monch, thanks for sharing. It’s interesting to learn how other nations deal with generational gaps. If they aren’t open to new ideas, what’s going to happen when the Philippine millennials eventually grow up and take over top management? Are they going to lack the skills to perform top management jobs?

      Thankfully you have the internet and other forms of technology and can research topics that interest you in the event your management criticizes your intention to learn.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Here’s where I’m hopeful, honestly.

        Given that workplaces around the world are changing, the perception of employees as “expendable parts” is now being scrapped in favor of treating employees as team members. In addition, companies such as start-ups nowadays prefer a more horizontal structure, with less emphasis on hierarchy.

        Millennial workers tend to be more “caring” towards fellow workers, not considering any hierarchical positions when dealing with them. The millennial generation also tends to give importance to meritocracy — you can succeed by working hard, not sucking up to management. Plus, the Internet is a treasure trove of materials that millennial workers can access with just a click away (like you mentioned.)

        The thing is, these prevalent ideas mark Philippine workplace culture: (1) that you should be thankful that you have a job despite the low remuneration; (2) seniority trumps performance, and; (3) do not go beyond what your direct superiors command you to do. The idea of mentorship in the Philippine context revolves primarily around a “watch and learn” concept; you’re not allowed to dip your hands in the water.

        I’m basing this on my personal experience, the fact that the Philippines has a rather high unemployment, and a realization that Philippine society runs on a twisted interpretation of the Danish Jante law.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I can agree with you. I guess it’s different in each country and I’m interested in how this will all pan out in the long run. America isn’t perfect by any means, but the gap has significantly impacted my means for advancing. Good luck to you in your career! and thank you for sharing!

        Liked by 1 person

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