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Five Generations in the Workforce: A Primer

While there are many critical components of successful organizations, the people are undeniably the largest asset of any company. Influential leaders strive to understand their people at every level to motivate and engage them. One essential aspect of understanding and leveraging the experience and talents of the people in an organization is knowing the generational differences that impact skills, work style, and motivation.

What follows is a primer on the five generations in the workforce today, as outlined by Point B Consultants Julie Smith and Susan Garriety. While each generation’s beginning and end birth dates vary slightly by source, we cite dates in this article asserted by Beresford Research.

Silent Generation

The silent generation is the oldest in the workforce today, born between 1928 and 1945. In 2021, these individuals are between the ages of 76 and 93 years old. While members of the Silent Generation will be exiting the workforce in the coming years, they still play a critical role.

This generation includes Warren Buffet, Bernie Sanders, and our U.S. President, Joe Biden. The Silent Generation values commitment, hard work, traditional benefits, and individual recognition.

The key to engaging this group is to respect their experience and institutional knowledge and make space for them to share their wisdom.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers, the second largest group at work after millennials, were born between 1946 and 1964 and are between 57 and 75 years old. Boomers were born after WWII and brought significant changes to the workforce. They were the first generation ever before to have more women between the ages of 22 and 27 going to work than staying home. To engage Boomers, be sure to involve them in decision-making.

Gen X

The Gen X generation is smaller than both Boomers and Millennials; they’re sometimes called the “middle child.” This group was born between 1965 and 1980 and is 41 to 56 years old. This generation is flexible, self-directed, independent, and highly entrepreneurial. To engage Gen Xers, tap into their creativity and drive.

Millenials

Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 25-40), are the largest group in the workforce. They’ve pushed organizations to adapt to the world of technology and they understand the swiftness of change. Millennials are super connected—to each other and the world at large. To engage millennials, help them understand how their work has a significant impact on the organization and society.

Gen Z

Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012 (ages 9 to 24), understands social media more than any other group. They are all about bringing people together around common goals for change. Gen Zers are resilient and very entrepreneurial. To engage Gen Z, leverage their passion.

Striving to understand the broad differences between generational groups is the first step toward bridging them together for the organization’s success. The next, and more critical step, is to talk to your employees to grasp further their unique perspectives, values, challenges, and perceived opportunities. Your employees will have invaluable insights about bringing together the work of multiple generations to achieve common goals.

Infographic: 5 Generations in the Workforce: Keys to Engagement

 

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