Expectations by generation in the workplace

Ever since the industrial revolution, our economy has been experimenting with workplace conditions. Through trial and error, we’ve learned numerous ways to foster creativity, ingenuity, and productivity.

Despite how much we’ve learned, there’s no “one size fits all” solution. The generational gap affects how people behave and think in a multigenerational workplace. While every employee is unique in their own way, similar traits often pervade each generation.

This article runs through the generational differences between the four key generations of our society and how they interact with the workplace.

Understanding different generations

Workplace practices have changed with the era. Still, there have been some key events that have driven society to approach work as we know it today.

In the 1930’s, the Great Depression drove poor working conditions, desperate employees, and few workers’ rights. The work environment was whatever the employer made it: whatever made money. This generation was known as the “silent generation” full of traditionalists who desire to work within the system rather than change it.

Moving forward, the end of World War II marked a change in the workforce. The unemployment rate dropped from over 17% before the war to 1.2% after the war. Women rose into jobs that were once only performed by men, throwing a curveball at what people considered “normal.”

From that point on, there’s been a steady metamorphosis of the workplace. Every decade or two, the gap between the employer’s needs and employees’ needs has grown smaller. Plus, our ever-changing wealth of new technology has opened more doors than ever before.

Baby Boomers (1947–1964)

Traditionally, baby boomers have been seen as goal-oriented team players. They’re from a generation of rebuilding, renewal, and healing. Still, they’re also from a generation that fought for what they believe in. Whether an employee or manager, baby boomers move as a team for both work and change in the workplace.

Still, this older generation is one step after the great depression: brought up to be hardworking to put bread on the table. They value efficient communication styles such as face-to-face conversations instead of easy-to-miss instant messages.

After two years of working remotely from the pandemic, most baby boomers are ready to either retire or switch to freelance work. One way or another, these individuals of unparalleled life experience are vacating the office, leaving a gap in their wake. Their expertise, mentoring, drive for change, and team spirit will be missed.

Generation X (1965–1980)

Gen Xers value quality not quantity. If you’ve gone for a job interview in the past ten years, you’ve probably heard a hiring manager use that line. The value behind this perspective is a greater work-life balance

During the height of Generation X, employees began to see their jobs as something they do, not who they were. Typically, these individuals work productively to excel at their jobs during work hours while having time to live on the side. Generation X employees prefer working among like-minded individuals who support a work-life balance rather than guilt each other for not working overtime.

The key to this mindset is that Generation X employees still have a great work ethic. In turn, they expect their skill and experience to be respected and recognized by both coworkers and authority figures of all age groups.

Millennials (1981–2000)

Get this: by 2025, Millenials will make up 75% of our workforce. That date is only three years away. They’d better be up for the challenge, right?

Luckily, most of them have a mind to make a difference. Millennials have a need to know their job amounts to something more than a paycheque. They like to make a difference and be a part of something more prominent than a cog in a wheel.

Millennials prefer authority figures that help them grow, are transparent, and are competent at their roles. In turn, millennial authority figures value employees who strive to make a difference and bring value to the team.

Millennials appreciate individuality. They need to be treated as unique individuals through every consideration from work-life balance to learning experiences. They thrive in environments that foster their personal development.

Generation Z (2001–2020)

Gen Z is the one generation that had on-the-go technology their entire lives. This generation has been surrounded by mobile phones, has never had a day without the Internet, and takes for granted that they can contact anyone from anywhere in the world at any time.

With such a tech-savvy generation so used to being entertained every waking hour, whether by social media or Netflix, these employees want to be engaged at work. There needs to be two-way communication on all avenues with full transparency for the road ahead.

Employers who encourage diversity are magnets to this generation. Companies that support minorities are seen as progressive, open-minded, and highly desirable. Gen Zers are incredibly open to change and even expect it. They’re also a generation that likes to tinker. Give them a job (or two, or three), leave them alone, and see what they can do.

Bridge the gap with tech

With such generational diversity populating most workforces, how can companies bridge the gap? How can they connect them all?

There’s a natural disconnect within a multigenerational workforce and different work styles. Often, the founder of a company is a baby boomer, the managers beneath him are generation X, and the employees beneath them are younger generations.

The generational gap isn’t just black and white. The best way to bridge the gaps is to have the best communication tools on the planet. Offices should be set up with the best resources to promote collaboration including a reliable video conferencing platform, robust conferencing technology, and enough meeting spaces to support in-person interactions. Help your teams connect by investing not just in the tools they need, but in tools that will help them thrive.

Connecting with Joan

The Joan room management system is a great wireless display for any environment, facilitating a seamless office experience. Users can check if a meeting space is available directly from the room’s ePaper touchscreen display, helping teams find a space for their ad-hoc meetup without interrupting upcoming meetings. The setup all but eliminates room squatters and overrun meetings, making collaboration a breeze.

The ultra-low-power display uses 99% less power than traditional displays, lasting six months on a single charge. In fact, Joan offers the most sustainable meeting room display on the market with each display lasting months on the power it takes to brew a single cup of coffee!

What’s more, desks can be booked directly from the Joan app, helping teams sit together rather than scattered across the floor plan. Booking a desk is as simple as opening an app, locating a desk, and tapping a button. Employees can reserve a desk well before they even arrive at the office, eliminating the stress and uncertainty of a flexible work environment.

Joan specializes in smoothing out on-site collaboration, making sure teams get the most out of their in-office days. While technology has changed the world, it can help cure it too.

Visit our product page to learn more about how Joan transforms the workplace.