Have you considered how when you were born determines how you will behave? How you and your peers typically react?
There are 6 generations defined in generational research. They are Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Z and the Alpha Generation.
Born: Between 1900 and 1945
Age: Between 66 and 111.
Influencers: WWII, the Korean War, the Great Depression, the New Deal, the Rise of Corporations, and the Space Age.
Education: Was more of a dream than a reality
Family: Generally came from the Traditional Nuclear family unit
Values: Hard work and saving for tomorrow was their aim. They valued the family unit and community above all else and were respectful of their elders and authority.
Money: They put money away, paid cash for everything and saved for retirement.
They were raised by survivors (not the reality type, but the real deal) and experienced hard times while growing up. A hard childhood was followed by a time of prosperity.
Motivation: Your experience is respected
Work: Was of the utmost importance to their livelihoods, they believed in working hard, were dedicated to their jobs, made sure they got the job done, were always on time and punched in and out for the hours required. They worked hard to gain senior positions, where time on the job and working hard resulted in promotions. They believed in long term assignments which gave them job security and stability. Conservative in their outlook on life, they believed in hierarchal work and home structures, with clear chains of command and top-down management with job – recognition, and respect for their experience.
The Baby Boomer
Born: Between 1946 and 1964
Age: Between 47 and 65
Education: Seen as a birthright
Influencers: Civil Rights, Space Travel, the Vietnam War, the Sexual Revolution, and the Cold War/Russia.
Family: Came from privileged backgrounds, due to their parents’ hard work and savings. Long work hours and living to work resulted in an imbalance and the family unit disintegration with the highest divorce rate and 2nd marriages in history.
Values: Value success but also thinks of themselves as a special generation, due to their radical views and democratic outlook. They have a broad continuity of values with older and younger generations and have a tendency to define the world in terms of the generations. The Baby boomers are post-War Babies who grew up to be the radicals of the 70’s and yuppies of the 80’s.
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Money: As a group in general, they are the healthiest, most educated and wealthiest generation of that time and grew up with an optimistic outlook for life, their futures and the world as a whole.
They strived for the American Dream, they are well established in their careers and hold positions of power and authority, and as a result, they are seen as being greedy, materialistic and ambitious.
Motivation: The strongest motivator for this group is being valued, prestige, perks and their need for money, they define themselves by their professional accomplishments.
Work: Baby boomers live to work, they are loyal to their careers and employer. They have a strong work ethic, are multi-taskers and traditionally found their worth in working long hours (they established the 60 hour work week). Working hard gave them the self-worth and fulfillment they required.
They established “flat” organizational structures, democracy, equal opportunity, and creating a more humane, warm and friendly workplace.
They were rebellious against convention and tradition due to their conservative parents, however, they were also independent, confident and self-reliant with a competitive edge and goal orientation.
This hard work ethic led to this group being hesitant to take too much time off work for fear of losing their place in the corporate environment.
Now, the Baby boomers strive for a work-life balance with a leaning towards a healthy lifestyle and strong family bonds.
Baby boomers defined a new form of working – living to work, they were/are scared that not working hard will result in failure, being successful is all important.
Generation X / Gen X / The Doer / Post Boomers / 13th Generation
Generation X, the generation that has seen the most change in the shortest, brought up by Baby Boomers, technological advancements, changes in politics and the economy, democracy, black and women’s rights, space exploration and all this happening at an increasingly rapid rate.
Born: Between 1965 and 1980
Age: Between 31 and 46
Education: Seen as a way to get there
Influencers: Watergate, the energy crisis, Challenger disaster, The fall of the Berlin Wall, Persian Gulf War, AIDS, The Clinton Administration, Reagan Assassination Attempt, dual income families and single parents, first generation of Latchkey Kids, Y2K, the energy crisis, activism, corporate downsizing, the end of the cold war, mom’s that work, and an increase in the divorce rate / single parent units. Their major influence, however, is the media.
Family: Born after the Baby Boomers. Due to their workaholic Baby Boomer parents, their focus is on a clearer balance between work and family life.
Their perceptions were shaped by growing up having to take care of themselves early, with working mothers, an increase in the divorce rate and single parent units.
Money: They are the first generation that will NOT do as well financially as their parents did.
Values: Their values revolve around life balance, self-reliance and diversity, being entrepreneurial, and having fun.
Motivation: They crave independence, ignore leadership, are pragmatic, anti-establishment, unimpressed with and will test authority repeatedly.
Work: They are Highly Educated, think globally and are technically literate with high job expectations.
They are independent and informal with the result that they lack organizational loyalty, are cynical, pragmatic and would rather be self-employed or be able to move between employers if they so choose.
They take time off to “find themselves” as they are not worried about losing their place on the corporate team. They are however very loyal to their managers.
They are highly adaptable, confident, competent, ethical, results from focus, flexible, self-starters, willing to take on responsibilities and put in the extra time to get a job done if required and are more results driven than job driven. They work smarter and with greater output.
They are the first “day care” generation, where women are expected to work outside the home due to the requirement of dual incomes.
Mostly this generation value their time, time away from work, time with their families and time to have fun. They work to live, not live to work.
Generation Y / Gen Yer / Generation Next / Millennials / Echo Boomers / 24×7’s
Generation Y is the money spending generation, having seen economic expansion and experienced the booming economy, money has allowed for travel, gadgets, and fun.
Born: Opinions differ, but typically, between years of 1977 and 2000
Age: Between 11 and 34
Education: Seen as an incredible expense but the most educated generation, they will continue to study to enhance themselves in the work environment
Influencers: 9/11 – World Trade Center, Pentagon attack, Oklahoma bombings, terrorist attacks, AIDS, Internet access made available, Kids shooting kids, School uniforms, Death of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, Timothy McVeigh execution, Globalization, George W. Bush. Their major influences are Friends, The Simpsons, Media and sports stars.
Family: Comfortable with a looser family structure, single mother/father family units, merged families (step mother or father) and have a new respect for the family unit. They are coddled kids, every child gets a prize even when you come last. Their parents have protected them from all the wrongs/evils of the world, and they are therefore more sheltered than any other generation. They are kept busy, with homework, after school activities and most of these kids have schedules. They consider their parents as their heroes.
Money: Have grown up in a world that has seen economic expansion. They are eager to spend money and therefore work to indulge in fun and gadgets. They shop around for the best deals and bargains. They are part of the purchasing power of the family and take part in purchasing decisions.
Values: Achievement oriented, loyal, confident, diverse, fun, sociable, techno-savvy, spiritual, they want everything now, optimistic, realists, members of a global community, high morals and very tolerant, competitive, like personal attention, street smart, and Individual in their thinking. They value their lifestyle over upward mobility. If presented with a work promotion that will throw their life out of balance, they will choose their lifestyle.
Motivation: They value their children, parents, and family, they believe they can change the world via technology, they hope to be the next great generation to turn all the wrongs into rights.
Work: Ambitious but not entirely focused. They want a balance between work, life, community involvement and self-development / mentoring by managers. They are entrepreneurial, effective, tenacious and good at multi-tasking but will be gone at 5 pm, they view work as a means to an end and live for the weekends.
They look to the workplace for direction and to help them achieve their goals. They will test authority but will seek them out when they need guidance and more readily accept older leadership than other generations. Gen Y is global and networked, they have grown up in a world with cell phones, computers, and the internet, they are always connected. They believe they can work flexibly anytime and anywhere, and that they should be evaluated for their output rather than where and when they got it done. They want long term employment, but on their own terms and with more of a collaborative work environment. There is a decrease in career ambition and would rather have more family time, less travel and less personal pressure. They have a “Me First ” attitude in their work life.
Generation Z / Net Generation / Dreamer Generation / Generation I / Generation @ / Generation 9/11 / 21st century generation
Relatively little has been established about this generation
Born: Roughly between the years of 1995-2010
Age: Between 1 and 16 they are the youngest generation, have older parents (late 20s to early 30s) and are being taught by older teachers (40s up). The youngest was born during the Global Financial Crisis of the late 2000s.
Education: They are the most formally educated generation in history, having started their education early and are projected to stay in education for longer than any other generation. Despite being in day care facilities, many children have structured after school activities, this has reduced free playtime. Parents help out more with homework and are becoming more like advisers to this generation.
These kids know how to multi-task effectively and place value on the speed of their work rather than accuracy. They are the most internet-savvy, technologically literate generation and have only known life with mobile phones, PC’s, the internet, and wireless networks.
Influencers: There major influencers are YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Wikispaces, and User Generated Content. They are too young to remember the September 11th, 2001 attacks other than through the media but are aware of the threat of terrorism.
Family: The parents of Generation Z are working part time or are becoming stay-at-home parents so that their children are raised by them and other family members. They have been born into older, wealthier families with fewer siblings, more entertainment provided for them rather than creating their own and much more technological options.
Money: Compared to the previous generation they are much more consumer-oriented. Financially intelligent they make decisions on how to spend their money based on the latest trends and media mania. They are the most financially capable generation in history, having as much purchasing power in the home as Gen Y kids.
Values: Self-directed, individualistic, and media mongrels
Motivation: They are motivated by instant gratification (we want it and we want it now!), instant connectivity, communication with peers via technology, they are a highly connected generation and do not want to miss out on anything. They have had lifelong use of media technologies such as mobile phones, instant messaging, MP3 players, the world wide web resulting in the nickname – digital natives. These connective devices are now carried in their pockets with the internet available on mobile phones or iPads, making news, communication and homework easier and more adaptable to do anywhere, anytime. This Generation has been born into the mass media and technology revolution and has never known a life without it.
Work / School: Described as a generation that lacks ambition in comparison to previous ones due to their parenting and instant gratification, and further described as impatient and instant minded. As their attention span is much lower, with a high dependency on technology, as opposed to reading books and other printed material, there have been references by Psychologists of this generation having “Acquired Attention Deficit Disorder”.
They are a materialistic generation, that wants more and more technology at their fingertips. In the next decade, they will comprise 10% of our workforce, and they will be entering the workforce in an era of declining supply i.e. there will be more people exiting the workforce than entering it. This will result in a skills shortage, with an aging population and a global demand for labor, Gen Z will have a greater chance of finding work.
The Alpha Generation
Born: 2010 onwards
They will be truly the first millennial generation because they will be the first entirely born into the 21st century (some of the youngest members of Generation Z were born at the tail end of the 20th century). The next generation to watch and wait for.
How does understanding the different generations help you? Perhaps knowing the generational traits and personalities you are dealing with will help you understand why they tend to behave the way they do. Of course, every generation consists of many different personalities and cultures.