How to work with Baby Boomers, Millennials and GenZ

How to Work With Baby Boomers, Millennials, and GenZ
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How are we motivated differently through the way we were raised?

Generational Workplace Motivation Research on Teams

Is that person that you’re having problems working with from a different generation?

We are ALL motivated differently because we were raised in different time periods.

After reading two books recently, Drive, by Dan Pink and The Best Team Wins by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton I picked up on a lot of the newest research in generational differences in teams.

Motivation according to Dan Pink comes down to three categories; mastery, autonomy and purpose. We all have the drive to strive for mastery in a certain area, to do things with a purpose, and do to things the way we want to do them (autonomy). The research from The Best Team Wins is finding out that boomers and millennials rank differently in how much autonomy they actually want in the workplace.

Baby Boomers

Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers are the oldest generation currently in the workforce. This generation is ambitious and hard working.


  • If I’m not a millioniare by 50, I’m a failure.
  • I’m a latch key kid
  • Must work, work, work


  • Committed
  • Great Mentors
  • Great at long term projects


  • Autonomy
  • Job Security
  • Promotions
  • Having their expertise valued and acknowledged

To Work With Baby Boomers:

  • Respect and admire their perspective on hard work
  • Set them up as mentors if they desire
  • Help find projects that they could work on alone (they prefer doing projects alone)
  • Leverage their ability to tackle long term projects.
  • Support their desire for job security. If their job isn’t at risk, tell them! Don’t make them afraid to be laid off or fired.

Generation X

Generation X has around 44 to 50 million Americans who were born between 1965 and 1980. This tiny demographic is squeezed between to significantly larger demographics (Boomers and Millennials). Most Generation X’ers are between 40 years old and 50 years old. Gen X’ers are entrepreneurial, this generation has the highest percentage of start up founders at 55%.


  • Latch Key Kids
  • Cynical
  • Pragmatic
  • Skeptical of authority
  • Seek work/life balance


  • Independent
  • Resourceful
  • Self-Managing
  • Adaptable
  • Entrepreneurial


  • Collaboration
  • Inclusion
  • Ability to telecommute
  • Less top-down structured organizations

To Work With Gen X

  • Support their desire for work/life balance with flexible schedules or telecommuting.
  • Remember that their cynisicm might have some truth to it, so be more open to their perspective.
  • Leverage their resourcefulness.
  • Give them the recognition they deserve


Born after 1980, they tech-savvy generation is currently the largest age group in the country.


  • If I’m not a millioniare by 30, I’m a failure.
  • I was given a lot of support growing up.
  • Not as loyal to companies compared to the Baby Boomers


  • Collaboration
  • Feedback
  • Meaninful work (Purpose driven)
  • Sufficient Attention & Recognition


  • Collaborators
  • Driven through social responsibility


  • Purpose
  • Mastery
  • Teams

To Work With Millennials

  • Offer incredible training, help them master a topic they are passionate about
  • Coach them along their career path
  • Be open to their perscpectives on collaboration and social responsibility.
  • Remind them about the purpose of their work and the purpose of their company
  • Have them collaborate on smaller scale projects with teams

Gen Z


  • Struggle with unplugging and focusing
  • Many want to start their own companies
  • Environmentally aware, value eco-friendly lifestyls


  • Seek indepence
  • Value autonomy


  • Technologically Advanced.
  • Learning Agility. They pick up on things quickly.
  • Natural Entrepreneurs
  • Can Multi-task well

To Work With Gen Z

  • Focus on building a strong positive relationship with them.
  • Identify tasks that they could perform independantly, give stretch assignments.
  • Help guide their offline communication skills.
  • If they are use to multi-tasking and can perform well while doing so, encourage it.

So knowing this what is the key takeaway? Let us know in the comments. what are the struggles you’re facing with other generations?

On your team give boomers more freedom, coach your millennials and encourage collaboration.


How Generation Z Will Impact Your Workplace. Janice Gassam. Forbes.

Pink, D. H. (2010). Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us. Edinburgh: Canongate.

Gostick, A. R., & Elton, C. (2018). The best team wins: the new science of high performance. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.

Ehrhart, M. G. (2012). Self-concept, implicit leadership theories, and follower preferences for leadership. Zeitschrift Für Psychologie, 220(4), 231-240. doi:10.1027/2151-2604/a000117

Friedman, S. D. (2011). Leadership for the 21st century. Journal of Leadership Studies, 5(3), 55–62.

Gergen, E., Green, M., & Ceballos, S. (2014). Generational and Gender Differences in Implicit Leadership Prototypes. Business Management Dynamics, 3(9), 44-54.

Hersey, P., Blanchard, K. H., & Natemeyer, W. E. (1979). Situational Leadership, Perception, and the Impact of Power. Group & Organization Management, 4(4), 418. doi:10.1177/105960117900400404

Mhatre, K. H., & Conger, J. A. (2011). Bridging the gap between Gen X and Gen Y. Journal Of Leadership Studies, 5(3), 72. doi:10.1002/jls.20235

Rodriguez, R., Green, M., & Ree, M. (2003). Leading generation X: Do the old rules apply?. Journal Of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 9(4), 67-75. doi:10.1177/107179190300900406

Thompson, C., & Gregory, J. B. (2012). Managing Millennials: A framework for improving attraction, motivation, and retention. The Psychologist-Manager Journal, 15(4), 237-246. doi:10.1080/10887156.2012.730444

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One Response

  1. I have a simple program for BabyBoomers “HOW TO LIVE FOREVER”. The idea is to convince Baby Boomers to write due a piece of theirs or their family history. Then put up for “free” as an ebook on Amazon/ Kindle thereby preserving it FOREVER.
    I tell them that if they are a president or a monarch it will be done for them. For the rest of us Nope! It’s up to us.
    Of course I offer my 6 stories and articles as examples.
    In addition some of these I market to students as well.
    I’d like to send you a marketing piece I designed that might have you consider helping me or maybe working together on this project .

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