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Every hundred years there are four successive generations with people having children at around 25 years of age, or so. Eliminate the formative and retirement years from that, and you still have four working generations in the office at the same time. Over the decades, this has, more or less, been the case. Nevertheless, in today’s world, we have four working generations that could not be more different from one another. And as expected, this can create some problems.

Of these four working generations today, the baby boomers are the most at odds with the other three. And instead of opting for retirement, they’ve decided to stay put. However, millennials make the most significant percentage point (35%) of the entire workforce in the United States. Alongside generation X and with the new arrivals, generation Z, the four generations together in the workplace can pose some severe and novel challenges for organizations.

The Challenges Facing Organizations

Many companies have not kept pace with their employees’ expectations. Regardless of their age, talented employees want to have more of a say in their job. It means that a traditional command-and-control approach is no longer a viable option.

Managers having to deal with these issues need to learn what motivates and engages each employee. Given the great diversity in the workplace, all employees need to feel heard and respected. It makes the employees seem somewhat similar to the company’s customer base.

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Regardless of their age, talented employees want to have more of a say in their job.

Defining the Four Working Generations

The four generations found in the workplace today can define in several ways. We can look at them regarding birth years, location, as well as any significant life events that were happening during their development stage. The latter category tends to shape an entire young generation regarding psychology, based on any significant events or movements happening during that time.

The Baby Boomers

Also known as me-generation, baby boomers are born between 1946 and 1964. Part of their formative years, this group experienced the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, as well as the sexual revolution. A significant characteristic of this group is their ongoing chase of the American dream and continue to value hard work. In 2017, this generation made up 25% of the US workforce, as opposed to 50% in 1994.

Generation X

If in 1994, gen X made up 29% of the American workforce, in 2017 that reached only 33%. It makes it the smallest yet, born between 1965 and 1980. Nevertheless, they define by their independence, skepticism, and disenchantment. These came about as a result of their baby boomer parents having jobs, as well as many homes split by divorce. Likewise, they went through events such as Watergate, AIDS, as well as several environmental disasters.


The millennials were born between 1981 and 1997, and represent 35% of the workforce or about 83 million, in total. Their affectionate parents gave them a strong sense of worth and entitlement. Today, this translates to a need for both recognition and meaningful work. Growing up alongside the arrival of the internet has made them tech-savvy and extremely connected.

Generation Z

Even if those born after 1997 make up just over 5% of the workforce today, they are expected to be the largest and most diverse US generation. Like the millennials before them, they are incredibly tech-savvy but resemble Generation X concerning skepticism and caution. A high degree of anxiety also defines this young generation, due in large part to the 2008 Financial Crisis as well as the geopolitical uncertainty of today.

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Understand the diversity of your workforce

This information will help those in leadership positions get a better grasp of their diverse workforce. For more information on understanding and managing different working generations in the 21st century, let’s connect on or

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Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734