The Multigenerational Workplace

Research shows that there are five generations in the workforce today. These generations are described in the following table.


Years Born (roughly)

Percentage in Workplaces

Defining Qualities/Values




  • Dependable
  • Straightforward
  • Tactful
  • Loyal

Baby Boomers



  • Optimistic
  • Competitive
  • Workaholic
  • Team-oriented

Generation X



  • Flexible
  • Informal
  • Skeptical
  • Independent

Generation Y (Millennials)



  • Competitive
  • Civic
  • Open-minded
  • Achievement-oriented

Generation Z



  • Global
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Progressive
  • Less focused

When working within multigenerational teams, it might be easy to see how some of the defining qualities and values don’t mix well. For example, a dependable and loyal Traditionalist may not mix well with a less focused Generation Z. An optimistic Baby Boomer may not mix well with a skeptic Generation X. A progressive, entrepreneurial, and global Generation Z and an open-minded Millennial may not mix well with a loyal Traditionalist or a team-oriented Baby Boomer.

Research also shows that:

  • More than 3 in 5 Millennial employees (62 percent) and nearly half of Gen Z employees (49 percent) say they have direct reports.
  • Male Gen Z employees are almost twice as likely as female Gen Z employees to say they have direct reports (62 percent vs. 33 percent).
  • Female Millennial employees are more likely than female Gen Z employees to say they have direct reports (58 percent vs. 33 percent).

Additionally, almost 75% of managers and business leaders say that Generation Z is the most difficult generation to manage. Managers and other leaders say that although Generation Z can use digital technology well, they lack business technical skills and are “easily distracted”.

Some leaders blame COVID-19 and online learning as possible causes for Generation Z being ill-equipped to work well in professional settings. Approximately 44% of these leaders say they prefer working with Millennials, who they see as technically competent and the most productive. Another 30% say they prefer working with Generation X and another 4% say they prefer Baby Boomers. The seemingly ill-fated Generation Z workers are also the most likely to be fired within a month of being hired. 

Is there a solution? Can multigenerational teams work well together?

I believe that the answer is yes, but it’s probably not going to be easy for anyone. Managers and opposing generations must embrace different value systems, work habits, and ways of thinking. Equally important, each generation must prove that they can be productive and efficient using their preferred style of work habits. Companies should consider adjusting their onboarding practices for Generation Z hires to include learning modules that stress professionalism, what it looks like, and what is expected of them. Managers and older generation workers should be patient, especially with Generation Z workers, and accept that it will probably take longer to onboard them. Finally, each generation of workers must understand that they must follow the organizational rules of their hiring manager if they expect to keep their job. 

Some of these adjustments will undoubtedly be more difficult for some than others. But the workplace is changing in ways most of us probably never anticipated. There is no going back. So, it seems best to find ways to move forward successfully together.   


Paulette Tiggs