Tips from TSE: Recognizing the different generations in the workplace

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, October 9, 2009

For the first time in history, there are four distinct generations in the American workplace. Although no one learning style or preference is common to all members of a specific generation, there are some general characteristics that serve as guidelines for teaching strategies. However, be careful not to stereotype learners. These characteristics and strategies are general suggestions to be adapted to the needs of individual learners.

  • The Veterans: also known as Traditionalists, Veterans look at education as a privilege and view authority figures with respect. They are not likely to question authority figures or express concerns directly.
  • Baby boomers: have a passionate work ethic and desire for financial success and value teamwork and personal gratification in the workplace. They are dedicated learners and initiated the self-help craze.
  • Generation X: view education as a means to success. They are cautious about money, having seen their parents downsized, perhaps more than once. Accustomed to change in family and work status, this generation is comfortable with change. They like a balance between work and leisure, value flexibility, dislike close supervision, and prefer self-directed learning.
  • Generation Y: has grown up with technology and is completely comfortable with its frequent advances and changes. Generation Y equates education with the ability to find good jobs. Members of Generation Y view downsizing as normal and have even less loyalty to organizations than Xers. They focus on what they do, not where they work.

Editor’s note: This excerpt was adapted from the October issue of The Staff Educator. Discover all the benefits of subscribing to The Staff Educator!

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