Four Generations – One Workplace – Can We All Work
Thursday, 16 April 2009 15:11
Everyone is starting to talk about it, but no one appears to know exactly what to do about it.
What is "it"?
Multiple (4 to be exact) generations working together in the business world. In our personal lives
we have always had individuals within the family unit that represent many generations (at least 2,
if not 4 or 5). Therefore, most people know how to relate and communicate with people from
other generations to accomplish goals and make decisions on a personal level. Then why, you
may ask, don't we just carry these skills over to the workplace? Perhaps it is because the line of
authority and ultimate decision maker is clearer in the family unit than the business environment;
maybe it is because rarely, if ever, is the youngest generation in a position of authority or power
over the older generation; or, maybe it is because the multiple generations in a family often share
the same basic value system. Whatever the reason, the result is clear – employees are struggling
with generational differences in the workplace and that means employers need to focus on the
issue before productivity (and profit) takes a downhill turn.
So who are these 4 generations? According to Linda Gravett and Robin Throckmorton in their
recently released book, Bridging the Generation Gap, there are 5 generations in our world today,
4 of which have attained working age. Specifically, Gravett and Throckmorton provide that the
following names, birth range, and common characteristics of the working generations as follows:
•Radio Babies: born 1930-1945; conservative, fiscally prudent, and loyal to their
• Baby Boomers: born 1946-1964; ambitious, most educated as compared to the other 3
generations, strong work ethic, loyal to careers and employers, multi-taskers.
• Generation Xers: born 1965-1976; independent, highest number of divorced parents, dual-