Generational Differences

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The Impact of Generational Differences on the Organizational Culture

Table of Contents


Challenges of generational differences1

Attitude towards work1

Loyalty towards the employer2

Attitude towards authority2

Attitude towards respect2

Attitude towards learning new skills3

Management of generation differences3

Impact of generational differences on organizations4

Cross-organizational issues4

Turning challenges4

Decoding Generational Differences5

Competitive advantages5

Innovation impact on the workplace5





The Impact of Generational Differences on the Organizational Culture


American workforce is composed of four generations (Gaylor, 2002). People belonging to different age groups who share similar circumstances, cultures and events are classified into generations. Classification of generation is essential because one view states that the events that are shared by each generation defines and shapes the behaviors of that generation. The behavior of individuals is consistent but the values, customs, thought process, life style and preference may vary. However, the second view states that, there are many differences in the life style, culture, preferences and choices of individuals. But, despite having the different life events and circumstances, people are “generic” when it comes to making important work-life decisions. In other words, the work related choices, preferences, attitude and behaviors remain the same. However, in actual, it is not easy to deal with generation differences.

Challenges of generational differences

Attitude towards work

Tolbiz (2008) has marked Baby Boomer as “slack” generation because their expectations from work and other generations are very high. These people have approached their retirement age but they are not ready to retire. Moreover, they are workaholic, due to which, they expect the same attitude from generation X and Generation Y. However, these generations are not hard working and prefer to work without supervision. Therefore, Baby Boomers; who are currently at top hierarchy act as “difficult boss” with different generations.

Loyalty towards the employer

Traditional Generation and Baby Boomers are extremely loyal to their organization. Most of them have spent all of their lives in one company without even exploring other options of career. Not only is this, Baby Boomers the biggest hindrance in the advancement of the careers of Generation X. The reason behind this is the fact that despite reaching the retirement age, they still want to be part of the American workforce. On the other hand, the concept of loyalty for Generation X and Y is very different. They prefer to have open options for the progress of their career. Their jobs are unstable and they don't hesitate changing their career paths.

Attitude towards authority

Traditionals take authority as one of their most important value. Similarly Baby Boomers also give emphasis to authority. They prefer centralized organizations where communication is formalized and authority is defined. Despite reaching at the height of their career path, they hesitate communicating with other people in positions (Hicks, 1999). Generation X, on the other hand, gives value to authority but they also give emphasis to work-life relationships. They do not hesitate to take challenging tasks and to co-coordinate with higher authorizes. However, Generation Y does not give importance to titles and top management. They believe that respect is earned and they value people on the basis of their relationship with ...
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