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Generation X & Y & Z

Ten differences between Generation X and Generation Y employees

Recruitment is an ever changing landscape, and with demographics continually changing it makes for some interesting recruiting strategies going forward. The early Baby Boomers (defined as being born between 1946 to 1964, and aged between 43-61) are now starting to retire, and as recruiters we are now having to put more of a focus on Generation X-ers (defined as being born between 1965 to 1979, and aged between 28-42) and Generation Y-ers (defined as being born between 1980 and 1984, and aged between 13-27).

But to recruit and retain people from these two generations, then we surely need to understand what makes them tick in a working environment. Krista Third of Tamm Communications has noted ten different workplace differences between the X and Y generations that we should all take note of:

1. Preferred style of leadership

  • X - only competent leaders will do
  • Y - collaboration with management is expected

2. Value of Experience

  • X - don’t tell me where you have been, show me what you know
  • Y - experience is irrelevant, as the world is changing so fast

3. Autonomy

  • X - give them direction, and then leave them to it
  • Y - questions, questions, questions

4. Feedback

  • X - expect regular feedback
  • Y - need constant and immediate feedback

5. Rewards

  • X - freedom is the ultimate reward
  • Y - money talks

6. Training

  • X - want to continually learn, if they don’t they will leave
  • Y - still in an exam driven mentality

7. Work Hours

  • X - do their work and go home
  • Y - will work as long as needed …or until they get bored

8. Work Life Balance

  • X - they want to enjoy life to the full, while they are young enough to do so
  • Y - their lives are busy - they need alot of ‘me’ time

9. Loyalty

  • X - they are committed as everyone else working there
  • Y - already working out their exit strategy

10. Meaning of Money

  • X - it gives freedom and independence
  • Y - just something that allows them to maintain their lifestyle

  • https://www.idealpeopleblog.com Idealpeople

    Great post. Thanks for sharing. On the same theme, you might be interested in hearing more about Bridget - https://idealpeopleblog.com/blog1/2007/12/07/candidate-20-is-your-employer-brand-futureproof/

  • Wayne Turk, Management Consultant

    I would add the Baby Boomers to her comparison. They (we) are still out there. My additions follow. Others might not agree with my inputs, but here they are:

    1. Preferred style of leadership
    · BB – willing to accept different styles
    · X - only competent leaders will do
    · Y - collaboration with management is expected
    2. Value of Experience
    · BB – experience is a good teacher
    · X - don’t tell me where you have been, show me what you know
    · Y - experience is irrelevant, as the world is changing so fast
    3. Autonomy
    · BB – not critical, but most prefer some
    · X - give them direction, and then leave them to it
    · Y - questions, questions, questions
    4. Feedback
    · BB – feedback helps
    · X - expect regular feedback
    · Y - need constant and immediate feedback
    5. Rewards
    · BB - recognition
    · X - freedom is the ultimate reward
    · Y - money talks
    6. Training
    · BB – can take it or leave it; some feel they are past that stage
    · X - want to continually learn, if they don’t they will leave
    · Y - still in an exam driven mentality
    7. Work Hours
    · BB – work until the job is done if we have to
    · X - do their work and go home
    · Y - will work as long as needed …or until they get bored
    8. Work Life Balance
    · BB – too often ignored
    · X - they want to enjoy life to the full, while they are young enough to do so
    · Y - their lives are busy - they need a lot of ‘me’ time
    9. Loyalty
    · BB – many still believe in “hired for life”
    · X - they are committed as everyone else working there
    · Y - already working out their exit strategy
    10. Meaning of Money
    · BB – a way to measure success
    · X - it gives freedom and independence
    · Y - just something that allows them to maintain their lifestyle

  • https://profile.typekey.com/sironaconsult/ Andy Headworth

    Wayne,

    Thanks for your input on the baby boomers, it is a good perspective. I think people write BB’s off at their peril, as they still have a lot to offer companies!

    Andy

  • https://www.recruitinganimal.com Recruiting Animal

    I dare you to explain the meaning of half of these comparisons. They’re either too short to understand or without any meaning altogether. Yeah they want feedback but me time vs live life to the fullest; what does that mean? Money means freedom vs maintaining lifestyle? Does that mean Gen X wants to get away from work whereas Y doesn’t think in those terms? And so on.

  • https://theblunterheadhunter.blogspot.com/ The Blunter Headhunter

    Interesting list - but does it actually work? I am going to quiz the youngsters and find out, but I’m not entirely sure I am 100% convinced.

  • Someone

    Although I am a Gen Y, I was raised by older parents, and in some ways feel closer to Gen X in mentality in many ways.I personally belive in loyalty, I don’t care about telecommuting, and would rather be given a task and after that leave me to solve it. That being said, I have noticed you are right about many of my peers, one thing you did not write that I have personally noticed, is that many of them act like finicail security and savings is a sort of no-worry concept. Take my comment with a grain of salt, I have never been a boss so I do not have as complete a picture as those who have been.I also would much rather have prestige in my feild, and I do belive when you start a job, it should be finished, as a matter of pride if nothing else. Again amongst my peers they have commented many times on such “antiquated” belifs, there is a sort of value they put on self concern, and a lacking of traditnol work ethic. In my opinion the immediate gratifaction concept is a direct consquence of the internet, where ten seconds is a long time. Sorry if I ranted a bit.

  • Laurie King

    I am an HR professional and found this while searching for info on this topic. I found this helpful, thank you!

    On a personal note, my maiden name was Headworth. Great Grandfather was Edward and Grandfather was Charles. I am from Michigan, USA.

  • https://profile.typekey.com/sironaconsult/ Andy Headworth

    Laurie,

    Thanks for the feedback, it has proved to be one of my most read posts!!

    Small world re The Headworths!! We have tracked the Headworth line to the 1700’s, and there is a good smattering across the US and Canada now.
    Great to hear from you.

  • https://www.strategic-hcm.blogspot.com Jon Ingham

    Andy, I thought I’d do a search on this site for you but it wasn’t very helpful!

    https://surname.sofeminine.co.uk/w/surnames/surname-headworth.html

  • SSAS

    I wonder if perhaps you are from GenY? As someone who is absolutely Gen X the list makes perfect sense - but you comment does appear to fit into the Gen Y category listed “questions,questions, question ”

  • SMA

    8. Work Life Balance

    * X - they want to enjoy life to the full, while they are young enough to do so
    * Y - their lives are busy - they need alot of ‘me’ time

    In a lecture at Ryerson University it was stated otherwise. Gen X focused on work more than personal life but Gen Y prefers a more WORK/LIFE balance. Correct me if I am wrong.

  • Gina

    This is why I hate HR generalizations so much. Of course Gen X is going to be more focused on work now that they are in their 30’s, early 40’s and Gen Y people in their 20’s are going to be more focused on their personal lives, away from their parents, dating and trying to start their own families.

    And, Baby Boomers have the most knowledge and experience and SHOULD be the leaders. We can all get along!!!

  • Samantha

    I am from Generation Y and most certainly do not agree with the sterotypes of my generation. Just because of the technological advances does not mean we are lazy and uneducated. Here are my comments about the differences, this is from an EDUCATED generation Y’er.

    1. Preferred style of leadership

    X - only competent leaders will do
    Y - collaboration with management is expected- Of course this is expected, we are expected to be able to fill-in a position
    2. Value of Experience

    X - don’t tell me where you have been, show me what you know
    Y - experience is irrelevant, as the world is changing so fast- Experience is definately relevant considering that every new job for college aged youth requires a few years experience
    3. Autonomy

    X - give them direction, and then leave them to it
    Y - questions, questions, questions- We have the right to ask questions because standards vary in each workplace, the more questions asked makes a job well done
    4. Feedback

    X - expect regular feedback
    Y - need constant and immediate feedback- We like to know how well our performance is
    5. Rewards

    X - freedom is the ultimate reward
    Y - money talks- This is so biased,money is not the ultimate goal, it is knowing you are as accomplished as the next person.
    6. Training

    X - want to continually learn, if they don’t they will leave
    Y - still in an exam driven mentality This is not true at all, most people my age are trying to learn the most from a job so they can take the knowledge along with them as their career advances.
    7. Work Hours

    X - do their work and go home
    Y - will work as long as needed …or until they get bored What’s wrong with working?
    8. Work Life Balance

    X - they want to enjoy life to the full, while they are young enough to do so
    Y - their lives are busy - they need alot of ‘me’ time Another statement obviously by a biased Generation X’er. Yes we are definately busy mostly picking up slack from others who are not competent enough to do their jobs correctly the first time.
    9. Loyalty

    X - they are committed as everyone else working there
    Y - already working out their exit strategy. Those of us who need jobs know we need to stay there as long as possible.

    10. Meaning of Money

    X - it gives freedom and independence
    Y - just something that allows them to maintain their lifestyle
    Money is just another reward that allows us to reflect on our quality of work. The higher the pay just means we have achived greater than our co-workers.

    Before someone characterizes another person based on the sterotypes of that generation, take the time to stop and consider that not all people fit into the sterotypes given to them. P.S. some of us are actually educated, value how others perceive us, and don’t make assumptions based on biased beliefs.

  • Nicola Giordano

    I definitely agree with Samantha. The article is definitely stereotype.

    Most generation Y are receiving great opportunities of travelling, for example, most youth is now able to interact with multiple diverse environments at the same time -thanks to technology and open perspectives-. We are the beginning generation of convergence and need for final equilibria, we understand the value of money but not so desperate to invest only in that direction. We are directly experiencing all the side-effects of extremes in everything: ideologies, religions, politics, climate change… I am personally not so happy about the mess been created by history, but there is not choice if not recreate this world in a new holistic perspective based on dialogue and peace. We are not the generations down the street, 1960s style, rather we are understanding that change cannot come if not from within since our history is less burdened of oppressive structures (and this also thanks to Baby Boomers). The market place is talking more and more about social justice, sustainability, responsibility as well. The world is changing very fast, and whoever is stuck in structures of thoughts that limits to strict narrow-minded utilitarianism will simply remain unemployed in the next decades. As well, our generation Y’s global village is allowing cultural exchanges that were unthinkable till 20 years ago. It’s not shocking to meet many young men and women who spent longtime in some developing country to understand what this world is all about, unity in diversity. In my field -for example- the latest edge debates are carried by generation Y experiencing community’s perspective as equally important (if not more) to hierarchical policy processes established at the International Level. We are born and proudly defend equality and the right to dream and create as principle to begin action in many fields, as well we are more conscious about the importance of harmony with the environment and with the self. Our time to entering this world professionally will go along our actions to bring great social changes (i.e, Arabian Spring, Obama youth phenomena, los indignatos, massive literacy campaign all over the world etc) and clean up “the mess” (toxic industries, unbalanced ecosystems, persistent oppressions etc). In the apparent clash, generation Y , Z and alpha are already silently creating the new world from within and through what today’s is physically possible: universal interaction and knowledge exchange.

    Peace

  • https://profile.typepad.com/yvonnehawse Yvonne Hawse

    I think from the definitions I’ve read, I’m a baby boomer (almost 47) and my daughters (ages 21 and 13) are generation y? I have to disagree with many of the labelling I see placed on todays generation. What I see with my daughters and their friends are people who recognize the difference between being successful and being wealthy. They love the world they live in and want to maintain it. They believe in social justice, acceptance not tolerance. they don’t like bullies of any kind and will put them in their place. They see people, they don’t see race, social standings, sexual oreintation or economics. At the same time, they expect to pay their way and expect others to do the same, They believe in helping where they can, but they are not pushovers. They believe in God but they recognize all faiths as being linked, no one more right than the other. They stand strong for what they believe in, they prefer to shop with a conscience. They believe in the beauty of being healthy. They are not mainstream, nor are they alternative. Frankly, I’m proud of the generation I’ve helped raise. Their values come from somewhere deeper than anything I’ve seen or read about before. They’ve taken the idealism of the ’60s and ’70’s mixed with the hedoism of the materialism of the 80 and 90s and created something beyond any ism.

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