The Generations

For the first time there are four generations of people alive today and interacting with each other. Below are some characteristics of each group. While the information here is mostly geared towards the workplace – the general characteristics of each group are still valid across the board. The information below comes from THE AGE OF CHANGE: MULTIPLE GENERATIONS IN THE WORKFORCE and Generation Identities.

Mature Workers: (Veterans, Silent Generation): Born 1909-1945
Most Mature workers were born before WW II. Many have lived through the Great Depression or their parents did. They may have seen wars in Korea and Viet Nam. They remember the big band era and jazz. Most of them experienced the prosperity of the late 1940s and 1950s after they became teenagers or adults.
Characteristics that may define Matures are teamwork, commitment, sacrifice, discipline, financial and social conservatism, and loyalty. They are often mechanically savvy but may not be literate in today’s technology. This generation maintains long-term loyalty to their organization and feel that opportunity comes after years of dedication. Mature Workers hold high respect for organizational hierarchies and authority.

Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964
The Boomer generation was the first to be raised with television. The oldest among them grew up during a period of peace and prosperity in the United States and then a period of civil unrest and change, followed by inflation and corporate downsizing. They remember Ozzie & Harriet, Viet Nam, Watergate, Woodstock, hippies, free sex, drugs, flower power, hot pants, antiestablishment politics, environmental protest groups, the Civil Rights movement, and music that spans rock and roll, folk, hard rock, and disco.
Characteristics that may define Boomers are idealism, individualism, self-improvement, and high expectations. They built the first computers and wireless communications devices. The Baby Boomers maintain loyalty to their team as opposed to their organization and are not afraid to challenge authority.

Generation X: Born 1961-1981
The Xers are often said to be the Me generation, the generation of status-seekers. They were exposed to fast food, designer clothes for children, the war on drugs, the fight against AIDS, the Space Shuttles, human genome research, the falling of the Berlin Wall, the first woman Supreme Court Justice, and the first female and first black presidential candidates. Their music ranges from pop, rock, country, punk, and rap. They saw their parents divorce in ever-greater numbers, became the first generation of latch-key kids, and watched their parents reinvent themselves because of jobs lost in hostile takeovers and corporate downsizing. This is the first generation to have been shaped by the mass media. It is also the first generation that may fail to match or surpass the economic status of their parents.
Characteristics that may define Xers are pragmatism, conservativeness, diversity, entrepreneurial spirit, and appreciation for the quality of life and work/life balance. They are a generation who is usually technologically savvy, but because they may have diminished expectations, they may feel alienated, cynical, and detached, leading to a value of self-reliance. Generation X maintains loyalty to their leaders or managers as opposed to their organization or team and they are not impressed by authority.

Generation Y: (Millennials, Echo Boomers): Born after 1981
The Millennials have been influenced by the electronic age more than any of the other generations. They are the first generation of children to do their homework on desktop computers, to carry their own cell phones, download music to iPods, and do their shopping online. They are influenced by wars in the Middle East, the destruction of the World Trade Center, a booming economy, a more diversified society, casual dress codes in business settings, Ritalin, the debate about gun control, NAFTA, reality TV, and distance education. Hip-hop music remains popular for this generation, along with R&B, country, and movie soundtracks.
Characteristics that may define Millenials are neotraditionalism, ritual, optimism, technological adeptness, and compartmentalized work and life. Generation Y maintains loyalty to their colleagues as opposed to their managers, teams, or organization and only respect authoritative figures who can demonstrate competence.

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  1. New retirement site for Baby Boomers and others at good information on finance, health, retirement locations, travel, volunteering and more.

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