Some of the areas that are significantly different for each generation include; the size of each generation in the workforce, how they learn and communicate, what they think about education, how they accept feedback and what they value in life and in their work. This multi-generational workforce may change in terms of representation but having such a diverse workforce means that employers and managers must understand what this means for their workplace environment in order to get and retain the best in each generation.
Current generations are broken down with 3 - 4 years +/- on each end.
Traditionals: 1930 - 1945
Baby Boomers: 1946 - 1964
Generation X: 1965 - 1980
Millennial or Gen Y: 1981 - 1995
Gen 9/11: 1996 - ____
Every generation was raised with experiences that make them who they are today. For example, Traditionalists experienced world wars, two parent families with stay-at-home moms. While Baby Boomers experienced protests for civil rights and feminism, assassinations, suburbia and space travel. Our Generation X cohort were raised with the collapse of the Soviet Union, latch key kids, growing divorce rates, and economic turbulence. Millennials grew up with technology all around them, diversity, helicopter moms and natural disasters. All of these experiences, some for the betterment and some not, have created individual groups with large differences in values and expectations for careers and work.
Organizations that know the break down of these generations and how to educate its workforce on how to get along while bringing out the best in everyone will acquire the best talent with highly engaged workers. Understanding the differences and educating your workforce is critical to understanding management in the 21st century.