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Generations in the Workplace: Building Bridges. Generation Gaps: Why We Struggle. Social experiences. News headlines. Political Experiences. Economic Conditions. Size of the Cohort. Shared Life Experiences. Pop Culture. Builders/ Veterans Born 1925- 1945. Baby Boomers Born 1946-

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Generation gaps why we struggle
Generation Gaps: Why We Struggle

Social experiences

News headlines

Political Experiences

Economic Conditions

Size of the Cohort

Shared Life Experiences

Pop Culture

Generations in the workplace building bridges



Born 1925-




Born 1946-






Born 1965-



Gen “Y”

Born 1978-



_ Million

Builders veterans traditionalists

Some Defining Events:

Builder veteran values
Builder/ Veteran Values

  • Duty before pleasure

  • Loyal

  • Dependable

  • Honor heroes and leaders

  • Belief in institutions like the church, government, companies

  • Discipline

  • Hard work and sacrifice should be rewarded

Baby boomers
Baby Boomers

Some Defining Events:

Baby boomer values
Baby Boomer Values

  • LIVE to work

  • Identity is tied to professional life

  • Hard work = success

  • Love/hate relationship with authority

  • Belief and trust in institutions

  • Competitive: get ahead

  • Service-oriented; optimistic

  • Relationship/team-builders

  • Health and wellness

  • Forever young

Generation x
Generation X

Defining events:

Generation x values
Generation X Values

  • Skepticism

  • Distrust of institutions

  • Hard work does not guarantee success

  • Work-life balance: work to LIVE

  • Identity is connected to fun, family

  • Self-reliant, autonomous

  • Practical/pragmatic

  • Work should be fun

  • Competitive; upward mobility

  • Adapt to change well

  • Techno-literate

  • Instant gratification

  • Multi-taskers


Defining Events

Millennial values
Millennial Values

  • FAST multi-taskers

  • Work to LIVE

  • Socially responsible: Volunteerism

  • Interested in spirituality

  • Expect and celebrate diversity

  • Confident; believe they are ready now for more responsibility

  • Like to work in teams

  • Technology is an integral part of who they are

  • Delayed adulthood

  • Want and expect PRAISE

  • Morality; abstinence up, substance abuse is down

Shared values of all generations
Shared Values of All Generations

-- Ben Rosen, Ph.D., UNC-CH Kenan-Flagler Business School

All generations agreed that the ideal leader
All generations agreed that the ideal leader…

-- Ben Rosen, Ph.D., UNC-CH Kenan-Flagler Business School

Tips for working with millennials
Tips for working with Millennials

  • Acknowledge their expertise and perspective and that you can learn from them

  • Be open to new ways of working

  • Embrace technology

  • Create opportunities to involve them in important projects

  • Offer to be a mentor

  • Find a communications balance

  • Foster fun work environment

  • Give frequent feedback and praise

  • Avoid age-related name-calling “the children”

Tips for working with generation x
Tips for working with Generation X

  • Acknowledge their experience, expertise, and that you can learn from them

  • Be clear and direct; avoid jargon, buzzwords

  • Find a communications balance

  • Allow flexibility in work style processes

  • Honor the need for work-life balance

  • Encourage a friendly, casual work environment

  • Avoid age-related name-calling “slacker, no loyalty, poor work ethic”

Tips for working with baby boomers
Tips for working with Baby Boomers

  • Acknowledge their experience, expertise, and hard work

  • Find a communications balance between text/email/voicemail and face-to-face communication

  • Seek their help with workplace politics

  • Use them as a sounding board

  • Avoid age-related comments like “They’ll do anything to get ahead, they’re workaholics”

Tips for working with builders veterans
Tips for working with Builders/Veterans

  • Acknowledge their experience and dedication

  • Pay attention to the chain of command

  • Speak positively about history of organization

  • Express interest in the work – processes, projects, etc.

  • Seek their insights

  • Use them as a resource

  • Acknowledge their respect for rules and hierarchy

  • Avoid age-related offensive comments “Aren’t you ready to retire?”

Generations in the workplace building bridges

What will you commit to do differently to improve teamwork with coworkers of different generations?

“People resemble their times

more than they resemble their parents.”

References with coworkers of different generations?

  • Zemke, Ron; Raines, Claire; and Filipczak, Bob. Generations at Work., 2nd Edition. AMACOM, 2013.

  • White, Marion. “Rethinking Generation Gaps in the Workplace: Focus on Shared Values.” Whitepaper published by UNC Executive Development, 2011.

  • Espinoza, Chip; Ukleja, Mick; and Rusch, Craig. Managing the Millennials. John Wiley & Sons, 2010.

  • Lancaster, Lynne C. and Stillman, David. When Generations Collide. Harper Business, 2002.