Generational differences influence how people communicate, think and work. Four active generations are in the workforce in 2023, each with unique characteristics and worldviews. For business owners and managers, it’s vital to understand the characteristics of each generation, including what motivates them and their communication style. Understanding your team will help you adapt your leadership style to utilize everyone’s talents to benefit your organization and other employees.
Various generations also have payment preferences, an important consideration for businesses. For example, Gen Zers are comfortable with mobile payment apps, while Gen Xers are heavy credit card users.
A multigenerational workforce comprises workers from different generations. The generations are defined by significant world events that occurred during their lifetime, as well as the general parenting style of the time they were raised.
As of 2023, workers from four generations are active in the workplace:
Each generational cohort has unique characteristics, values and outlooks. Familiarizing yourself with each generation can help you create a collaborative, productive workplace.
Remember, these are generalizations. Employees are unique, and you should treat your employees as individuals first and foremost.
Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are the oldest generation currently in the workforce in significant numbers, comprising 25 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to LiveCareer. (The previous generation, the Silent Generation, makes up only 2 percent of the workforce). They range in age from 59 to 77. Many boomers have retired or will soon retire, with the youngest boomers turning 65 (the retirement age) by 2029.
Here’s what you should know about boomers:
Tips for managing baby boomers
When working with boomers, provide clear, specific goals and deadlines; offer them mentoring opportunities where they can share their experience; and place them in settings that foster workplace teamwork.
Generation X, often referred to as “the middle child,” is the generation sandwiched between boomers and millennials; they make up a third of the workforce. Members of Gen X range in age from 43 to 58.
Here’s what you should know about Gen Xers:
Aim to be efficient, provide direct feedback, and offer them plenty of independence and autonomy to improve employee engagement.
Millennials (also known as Gen Y) have been accused of being entitled, whiny and irresponsible, but the millennial generation has been influenced by drastic societal and socioeconomic changes.
As of 2023, millennials range in age from 27 to 42 and comprise the biggest group in the workforce, at 35 percent.
Here’s what you need to know about millennials:
Tips for managing millennials
To attract and retain millennial employees, get to know them personally, communicate in depth about their progress and output, offer flextime and flexible work schedules, and provide the opportunity to work remotely.
The newest members of the workforce, Gen Zers are the first true tech generation, having never known a world without the internet as it exists today. Gen Z is also known for being the most diverse generation in American history.
Here’s what you need to know about Gen Z:
Tips for managing Gen Zers
When working with Gen Z, give them opportunities to multitask, provide lots of autonomy and self-direction, and offer a solid work-life balance.
A multigenerational workforce can be highly beneficial for your business. Some upsides include the following:
However, managing a wide range of age groups and ensuring everyone’s needs are met can be difficult. You may face the following challenges:
If you’re managing millennials and Gen Zers, focus on their similarities. For example, both value clear communication and consistent feedback and want to ensure they’re working for the greater good.
Despite the challenges, business owners and managers can do much to ensure a positive and productive multigenerational workplace. Consider the following best practices:
Jennifer Dublino contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.