Complexity of an Intergenerational Workforce

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Date Submitted: 08/20/2011 03:40 PM

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Complexity of an Intergenerational Workforce


This paper will examine the intergenerational workforce of the United States and the potential implications and effect on business outcomes. Generational stereotypes and assumptions, along with the changing demographics of the workforce, will be discussed. Potential solutions to utilize and leverage the intergenerational workforce will be presented.

Four Generations of Workers


Companies in the United States are facing the most age diverse workforces in history. The unprecedented intergenerational workforce consists of four generations of workers with varied life and work experiences, skills, and education. There are marked differences between generations as to what they expect from, and in, the workplace (Zemke, Raines, & Filipczak, 1999). These differences can lead to misunderstanding, conflict and reduced productivity if organizations are not equipped to address the sources of those differences. At the core, the generation issue is another layer of workplace diversity that needs to be discussed openly and leveraged to improve business results.

The Generation Descriptions and Stereotypes

The four generations that comprise our current workforce have been commonly described as Traditionalist, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers/Generation X , and Millennials/Generation Y (Age and Diversity Issues, 2011). The generation groups are people who are approximately the same age and who have had similar societal experiences which can influence on how the majority of the group finds meaning in their experiences and how they view the world (Pitt-Catsouphes,E.D., Farrell, D., Greenberg, E.) et. al., 2009). There are societal stereotypes about each generation that play into how the groups view each other in the workplace.

Traditionalist are workers typically born before 1946. This group of people have been coined the "Great Generation" as many lived through the Great Depression and two World Wars...