Generational Differences in the Workplace [Infographic]

For the first time in history, there are five generations in the workplace. They are:

  • Traditionalists—born 1925 to 1945
  • Baby Boomers—born 1946 to 1964
  • Generation X—born 1965 to 1980
  • Millennials—born 1981 to 2000
  • Generation Z—born 2001 to 2020

What kinds of challenges does this present for today’s employers? How do generational workforce differences affect our ability to manage people effectively? And what are the traits, beliefs, and life experiences that mark each generation, influencing how they work, communicate, and respond to change?

That’s precisely what this infographic is about. We spoke with Bea Bourne, DM, faculty member in the School of Business and Information Technology at Purdue Global. Dr. Bourne is an expert on generational differences and generational response to organizational change. In this infographic, she shares her research regarding:

  • How today’s talent stacks up by generation, including their defining values, beliefs, and worldviews
  • The significant historical events that shaped each generation
  • How to best motivate and manage workers from each generation

With this information, managers and HR executives can develop multigenerational strategies in recruitment, orientation, talent management, retention, and succession planning.

Learn how to manage different generations at work.

Infographic about generational workforce differences. Text version available below infographic.

Generational Differences in the Workplace Infographic Content


Born: 1925–1945

Dependable, straightforward, tactful, loyal

Shaped by: The Great Depression, World War II, radio, and movies

Motivated by: Respect, recognition, providing long-term value to the company

Communication style: Personal touch, handwritten notes instead of email

Worldview: Obedience over individualism; age equals seniority; advancing through the hierarchy

Baby Boomers

Born: 1946–1964

Optimistic, competitive, workaholic, team-oriented

Shaped by: The Vietnam War, civil rights movement, Watergate

Motivated by: Company loyalty, teamwork, duty

Communication style: Whatever is most efficient, including phone calls and face-to-face

Worldview: Achievement comes after paying one’s dues; sacrifice for success


  • 49% of Baby Boomers expect to or already are working past age 70 or do not plan to retire1
  • 10,000 Baby Boomers reach retirement age every day2

Generation X

Born: 1965–1980

Flexible, informal, skeptical, independent

Shaped by: The AIDs epidemic, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dot-com boom

Motivated by: Diversity, work-life balance, their personal-professional interests rather than the company's interests

Communication style: Whatever is most efficient, including phone calls and face-to-face

Worldview: Favoring diversity; quick to move on if their employer fails to meet their needs; resistant to change at work if it affects their personal lives


  • 55% of startup founders are Gen Xers — the highest percentage3
  • By 2028, Gen Xers will outnumber Baby Boomers4


Born: 1981–2000

Competitive, civic- and open-minded, achievement-oriented

Shaped by: Columbine, 9/11, the internet

Motivated by: Responsibility, the quality of their manager, unique work experiences

Communication style: IMs, texts, and email

Worldview: Seeking challenge, growth, and development; a fun work life and work-life balance; likely to leave an organization if they don't like change


  • 75% percent of the global workforce will be made up of Millennials by 20255
  • 18% of Millennial men ages 25–34 live at home with their parents6
  • 12% of Millennial women ages 25–34 live at home with their parents6

Generation Z

Born: 2001–2020

Global, entrepreneurial, progressive, less focused

Shaped by: Life after 9/11, the Great Recession, access to technology from a young age

Motivated by: Diversity, personalization, individuality, creativity

Communication style: Social media, texts, IMs

Worldview: Self-identifying as digital device addicts; valuing independence and individuality; prefer to work with Millennial managers, innovative coworkers, and new technologies


  • 67% of Gen Zers want to work at companies where they can learn skills to advance their careers7
  • 80% of Gen Zers believe government and employers should subsidize, pay full tuition, or provide direct training for students8


  1. Report: Almost Half of Baby Boomers Still Working Past Age 70. NRMLA. 
  2. Aging. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 
  3. Generation X: Connecting with Health Care’s Next Big Consumer. Cosimano L. LinkedIn. 
  4. Millennials Overtake Baby Boomers as America’s Largest Generation. Pew Research Center.
  5. Millennials in the Workplace Statistics: Generational Disparities in 2023. TeamStage. 
  6. Millennials Are Living with Their Parents at Higher Rates than Past Generations, and They’re not Ashamed. Business Insider.
  7. Generation Z Workplace Statistics. Forage. 
  8. Question the Quo. ECMC Group.