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Hero Image Different Generations in Workspace

Communication in today’s workplace is becoming more difficult, as so many different age groups are now represented in the workforce. From tech-happy Gen Z’ers to more traditional Baby Boomers, coworkers come from very different backgrounds, and therefore each group has specific ways they choose to communicate with one another. Learn today how to overcome the challenge in your own company working together with different generations in the workspace.

Here’s a breakdown of each age group currently represented in the workforce, and what their preferred communication styles are:

Generations in Today’s Workforce

  • Generation Z is just now graduating from college and entering the workforce. They were born in 1996 – the present day, and prefer texting and video chatting when communicating with coworkers.
  • The largest part of today’s workforce is made up of Millennials, and nearly 50%. Millennials are people born in 1977 – 1995, and they typically prefer online chats, such as Slack, or texting in order to communicate in the workplace.
  • Generation X members were born in 1965 – 1976 and usually utilize email or texting when they want to talk with their coworkers.
  • Baby Boomers were born in 1946 – 1964 and prefer face-to-face or phone conversations in the workplace.
  • Traditionalists were born in 1945 or before, and like to communicate over the phone or using written letters

The Different Values of Each Age Group

Tensions between different generations is at an all-time high today, due in no small part to anonymity online (have you heard of the “Ok boomer” meme?) Though it may be acceptable to be rude to someone on Twitter, it’s not in the workplace, so it’s important that coworkers understand how to get their message across in a healthy and productive way. The means by which an employee chooses to do this is going to vary from person to person.

Business owners and HR staff can encourage understanding between coworkers of different ages by helping them learn the history and core values of each age group that shapes the way they handle certain issues.

For example, Baby Boomers are children of parents who lived through the Great Depression, so they were taught that hard work is the only way to get anywhere in life. In contrast, Generation Z was raised on smartphones and the internet, and this interconnectedness has given them a greater appetite for creative thinking and the value of just trying.

Work Ethic and Core Traits Across the Generations

Here is the breakdown of the workplace values for each generation:

  • Members of Gen Z want to have work that they find fulfilling, and this is actually more important to them than a job that pays well. They want to be able to express themselves freely and for mentors to be available to show them the way forward.
  • Millennials are expert multi-taskers, and also value creative expression. They are both ambitious and more self-confident than other generations.
  • Generation X members have high expectations of their employers to provide a healthy workplace, and they’re not afraid to ask questions if they don’t think something is right.
  • Baby Boomers are typically workaholics with a strong work ethic and emphasis on producing quality.

You can see how these different values could inevitably lead to tension, where one group of people would approach a workplace issue much differently than another. Take a look at the graphic from TurboTenant below for a more in-depth breakdown of each generation, along with strategies coworkers can use to communicate effectively with each other.

A Leader's Guide to Communication Amongst 5 Generations
Heidi is a writer and content creator for TurboTenant. When she isn’t covering wellness and the workplace, you can find her trying out a new restaurant or hanging out with her bearded dragon.
Hedi Thiel

Guest Writer

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