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Supervision Intervention Strategies

Recruitment and Retention Toolkit   Supervision Intervention Strategies   Managing Generational Differences [2.8.11]   Characteristics of the Four Older and Younger Generations [2.8.11.a]

Characteristics of the Four Older and Younger Generations [2.8.11.a]

Today’s workplaces often have a mix of three or even four generations working together, which can create misunderstandings and problems with communication. Generations Z and Y (Millennials) prefer to communicate by texting, often using abbreviations and informal language. Baby boomers and older Gen X-ers tend to prefer phone calls and emails. They may interpret the younger generation’s texting and informality as a lack of respect [Cite:]

The valuable experience of older workers can create obstacles if they are not open to new ideas. It can be difficult for baby boomers to adjust to today’s rapid changes in technology. Younger workers’ enthusiasm and willingness to try new things should be encouraged, but also channeled. They may not have the perspective to understand the costs and risks associated with the changes they want to make. [Cite:]

According to a 2015 survey, Generation Z will make up 20 percent of the total workforce by 2020. This group of workers (born after 1990) has grown up with technology available to them around-the-clock and is accustomed to constant learning. Companies with a solid understanding of this generation's values and preferences will be better prepared to create work environments that attract this new generation of employees.

Bringing staff members of different generations together for face-to-face team-building exercises can help break down some of these barriers. To avoid conflict and promote collaboration in the multigenerational workforce, flexibility and openness on the part of every age group is critical.

For more on helping different generations work together, see

Partners for Recovery (PFR), an initiative sponsored by the SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), is sponsoring regional Leadership Institutes across the country. The Leadership Institutes are part of the overall strategy of PFR to develop leadership within the addiction treatment field. The Southern Coast ATTC piloted the first Leadership Institute. The Graduate School, USDA (GS/USDA) is responsible for the pre-assessment of participants (called "protégés") and a five-day immersion training

A slide presentation outlining generational differences based on the work of several researchers can be viewed at:

The Research and Training Center on Community Living at the University of Minnesota developed the report Generational Differences in the Workplace under a contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Advice on how the workplace needs to change for Generation Z is found at:

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