For the first time, the United States workforce is comprised of four different generations: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. These generations have different perspectives on workplace issues like work ethic, leadership, and authority. It is crucial for businesses to not only understand the differences in workforce generations, but to also realize the crucial role that older adult workers play in the bigger picture.
Traditionalists (born 1929-1945)
These workers were born in the Great Depression. They lived during the prosperous 1950’s and 1960’s when the employment rate was high. Typically, they expect to retire with good health and sufficient assets that promise them a comfortable life in retirement.
Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)
The Baby Boomer generation was created by the baby “boom” after the post war of 1945. This generation continued the trend of higher education and had the expectations that they would retire comfortably like their parents. But, with the downside of the economy of 2007 and 2008, many had to rethink their retirement plans. Because of the lack of savings for retirement, decline of housing values, and the increase of health care costs, many Boomers have pushed back their retirement years and are still in the workforce.
Generation X (born 1965-early 1980’s)
This generation came after a period of political wars and international tensions. Generation X is highly educated with more women in the workforce, particularly occupying high-level positions, than previous generations.
Millennials (born mid 1980’s-2000)
Also known as “Generation Y”, they are the children of the Baby Boomer generation. They grew up during the digital revolution and expect their jobs to fit their personal lives rather than vice versa. Millennials tend to be achievement oriented and have higher expectations when they enter the workforce.