This guest article was written by the team at BridgeWorks.
You’re scrolling through Facebook, admiring adorable videos of bumbling babies or meandering kittens. Then bam. A headline declaring Millennials have killed a dozen different industries. A acquaintance complaining about the stigma against young people. Your grandpa commenting about how “back in the day, we went to the park without hunting Pokémon on phones.”
To put it gently, our society is a tad obsessed with Millennials.
And of course, the response to the collective frustration with this young-ish group has evolved into thousands of articles trying to piece them together. But by fixating on this single cohort, writers and readers alike are greatly neglecting the other generations.
Perhaps you’ve heard, but multiple generations occupy today’s workforce. Many of your consumers, clients, coworkers, and yes, even your fresh batch of interns, likely aren’t Millennials, and if you put too much energy into one generation, you risk disengaging and losing the others.
Our goal at BridgeWorks is to help you see the larger generational picture, because generational understanding can and will impact your bottom line. From e-learning and webinars to in-person workshops, we’re believers in thorough generational training. So to get you started, here’s a quick run-down of today’s generations.
"To put it gently, our society is a
tad obsessed with Millennials."
Born between 1900–1945, this group makes up 2% of the workforce and 9.8% of the population, and they cast 14% of the votes in the 2016 US presidential election. They aren’t exactly the largest generation to be keeping tabs on, but they built many of the institutions that still thrive today.
Baby Boomers learned most of what they know from their Traditionalist bosses, and oddly enough, when Generation Edge fully enters the workforce, we might see them favor some Traditionalist ways (much to Millennial managers’ dismay). Understanding how Traditionalists once ran the workplace can help you spot similar trends in other generations.
From 1946–1964, a baby was born every eight seconds, thus we have ourselves the Baby Boomer generation. Part of this cohort has or is beginning to retire, while many are still firmly rooted in their leadership positions and supporting the world’s most successful organizations.
Boomer leaders are likely financially supporting both children laden with college debt and aging Traditionalist parents. They’re at risk for burnout, but they won’t say anything. Meanwhile, they’re tangled in the well-known generational rivalry of Millennials vs. Boomers.
Once identified as the narcissistic, Nirvana-obsessed slackers, Gen X finds themselves quite invisible amidst all the Boomer and Millennial hubbub. Born between 1965–1979, they’re now past their raving days and ready to fill the leadership positions Boomers will soon vacate.
Unfortunately, they’re mostly omitted from the generational conversation. These transparent and independent skeptics work, purchase, and think quite differently from other generations, so organizations who overlook them risk losing experienced employees and valuable customers.
At the center of the general population’s scrutiny, Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce. Born between 1980–1995, many have long since graduated college, settled into their careers, and started families.
With the whole internet turned against them and labeling them the lazy me-me-me generation, Millennials still strive to make a difference, build a #workfamily, and climb into leadership positions. Furthermore, they’re certain to feel the pains of Generation Edge moving into the workplace.
The new kids on the block are just starting to break into the workforce, but most are still making their way through school. Edgers were born 1996–2010, and they’re being raised by the straightforward, no-BS Xers. Combine that with the fact that they’re growing up in a post-recession economy, and you have a practical, financially wary generation. They’ll bring a similar level of tech-savvy to the office as Millennials, but their work preferences are drastically different and will most certainly cause disruption.
While Millennials are a confusing bunch, the other generations are shifting with each life stage and generating conflict and uncertainty. This is why BridgeWorks offers sessions and workshops built on the most up-to-date generational research to help organizations leverage the strengths of each generation. (Psst, check out our offerings!)
Sure, Millennials are currently the largest generation, but let’s try to keep a pulse on the 244 million who don’t fit that group.
BridgeWorks is a multigenerational team of experts and speakers who help companies learn how to leverage a better understanding of the generations to create a more compatible, cohesive and productive workforce, and to be better equipped to compete in the marketplace.