Workforce Generational Differences (Part 3)

How knowledgeable are you about generational differences in the workforce? Understanding how your coworkers think can help foster better workplace unity and teamwork. In Part 1 on this topic we introduced the concept of generational differences along with a quiz to test your awareness. In Part 2 we explored the four different generations currently in the workforce. Now we return to the answers to the quiz.


Quiz Answers:

1. This generation is considered polite toward authority.

Millennials. While their respect must be earned, they will immediately be polite and accept the authority of their leaders, in part because of their relationship with their hyper-involved parents.

2. Messages that speak to family, home and patriotism are important to this generation.

Traditionalists. Once again, these values are also common for veterans of all generations.

3. Making a difference in the world is important to this generation.

Millennials. Money and recognition are less important than finding something personally fulfilling.

4. Pitching office politics as a way to get around the rules appeals to this generation.

Gen Xers. Valuing a casual atmosphere, Gen Xers prefer the informal “water cooler” communication channels to the top-down authoritarian directives of traditional communication channels. Thus they tend to use office politics to their advantage whenever possible.

5. This generation has a non-traditional orientation about time and space.

Gen Xers. Being in jobs portable enough to take the work to Starbucks greatly appeals to Gen Xers.

6. This generation is eager to please and consists of good team players.

Baby Boomers. Looking for ways to get ahead, Baby Boomers will go out of their way to please their bosses and co-workers.

7. This generation considers work their reward.

Traditionalists. Being given more responsibly by their employer means more job security and stability.

8. This generation is labeled as “job-hoppers.”

Gen Xers. With Baby Boomers clogging upward mobility, Gen Xers have taken pride in their willingness to always leave for a better opportunity.

9. This generation often needs development in strategic, planning, budgeting and coaching skills.

Baby Boomers. Many in this generation worked long and hard without a good plan for the future, rewarding themselves for their hard work by going into debt for things they wanted immediately.

10. This generation thinks of work as a team sport.

Millennials. Always being connected and having strong relationships with authority are two values of this generation.

11. This generation likes consistency and uniformity.

Traditionalists. Growing up during tumultuous times, consistency is an especially strong value.

12. This generation needs help with privacy issues.

Millennials. Being connected by social media non-stop, sometimes Millennials share too much information.

13. A little freedom goes a long way to keep this generation satisfied.

Gen Xers. Growing up self-reliant, Gen Xers hate being micromanaged.

14. This generation invented the one page resume.

Traditionalists. When you only work one job your whole career, only one page in necessary.

15. This generation redefined communication and relationships.

Millennials. This was the first generation to attend high school prom in groups, post pictures to all their friends and family on social media, and text each other rather than walk across the room to say something face-to-face.


How did you do? This quiz hopefully demonstrated your current level of understanding about an important but complex topic. If you did poorly, consider it the first step on a road towards greater success in the workforce.

Again, understanding these differences may save hours of grief in conflict between coworkers. It may reveal how to motivate someone dragging his or her feet. It may effect hiring decisions or the structure of teams. Whatever the case, generational differences in the workforce are real and important to examine as part of any plan for business success.


The information in this article was primarily gathered at a Fall 2015 TempNet conference in Memphis, TN, from a presentation by Sandra Spangler, Director of Corporate Communication & Training at Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company. Her presentation cited the following source materials:

“When Generations Collide: Who They Are. Why They Clash. How To Solve the Generational Puzzle at Work” by Lynne Lancaster and David Stillman

“Generations At Work: Managing the Clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers, and Nexters in Your Workplace” by Rom Zemke, Claire Raines, and
Bob Filipczak

“Y In the Workplace: Managing the Me First Decade” By Nicole Lipkin and April Perrymore