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Different generations in the workplace, an HR hype?


Four generations in the workplace

There are currently four generations in the workplace:

  • Baby boomers are at the peak of their careers, yet many 50 and 60 year olds still want, can and should work
  • Generation X is the 40s and young 50s
  • Generation Y is anyone born between 1980 and 1994
  • Generation Z, the real Millenials were born between 1995 and 2010, though many of the latter are still in school.

Generation Alpha, born since 2011, is obviously not yet in the workplace.
Are you a business owner employing a lot of people born between 1980 and 2000? If so, you can only reap the rewards.

On condition that you integrate them in the right way and let them work together. We would like to zoom in on these two generations. Because they will gradually become the majority in the workplace and you can't just lump them together, we'd like to zoom in on these two generations.

Generation Y versus Generation Z

Generation Y (1980-1994) is the successor of generation X and is seen as self-centered, lazy and impatient. On the other hand, it is also characterised by creativity, spaciousness and great social responsibility. They bear the consequences of poor parenting techniques and technology, according to some studies, but that doesn't take away from their ambition.

All those born after 1994 belong to generation Z. These young people are now quietly seeping into the job market and have learned from the mistakes of the previous generation.

The biggest difference with generation Y?

Their extremely realistic attitude. The current terrorism threats and other global conflicts have made them more cautious, and the economic crises have made them money-conscious. They realize all too well that they need to constantly educate themselves and they have an entrepreneurial mindset.

But the two generations also have some common ground: the youngest generation wants to have an impact on the world at all costs and is more concerned with social responsibility than ever.

How to integrate both in your organization?

Generation Y

Generation Y has been raised with the idea that they are special. They can reach the top (just think of TV shows and movies like "Everybody Famous", the reality soaps that are very popular with this generation, etc.). When they are suddenly told at their first job that they are underperforming and not just getting everything they want, it is a blow to their self-confidence.

Should you start pampering this generation then? No, but you won't achieve much with repression or negativity. It's a generation which needs affirmation. A generation that blossoms open when you show them you believe in them.

This generation is also characterised by an outspoken opinion, not too many limitations is the code word. They can multitask like the best of them, so varied tasks and using technology is not a problem. Because Generation Y is used to making contacts mainly online, many of them have not invested enough in deep relationships. In their spare moments, they quickly reach for their smartphone.

As an employer, it's in your best interest to invest in social contacts and team connection. It's also best to ban smartphones from the meeting room. This way, Generation Y will listen more attentively to their discussion partners and be more likely to engage in a personal conversation with their colleagues before the meeting. Communication with impact? This generation listens to "values", the why is more important to them than the "what" and "how". They will do their job with even more passion if they know what their efforts will yield. Does content take precedence over pay? When all is said and done, the salary will be a driving factor in their choice.

Generation Z

Generation Z has grown up in a rapidly evolving world, in uncertain times and even more social media. It's also the first generation with a genuine global mindset. But perhaps their most striking characteristic is their entrepreneurship. More than half of Generation Z wants to start their own business, according to surveys.

In order to feed this entrepreneurial hunger, as an employer it's best to give these young people enough projects of their own. Let them show what they can do and give them the opportunity to make an impact. Your communication should also take this generation of realists into account.

And as a company you should also focus on digital content. This generation will share your content, videos about special events on social media are a hit with this generation. Forget Facebook. Instagram, & LinkedIn and focus on new platforms with the challenge of following them. Generation Z likes to live it up creatively and will link more to your business this way.

You see, there are clear differences between the two generations and it is certainly worthwhile to go into this in more detail. Would you like to know more about these and other generations in the workplace? I refer to the following available literature and / or training. In addition, we also provide various customised management training courses to get the most out of yourself and/or your team members.


Elle Fleurackers

Proactive & passionate MarCom Manager with a broad range of interests.