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Generational titles — why do we even need them?



This article was originally published in the Tribune-Star on June 23, 2018.

Educate, validate, and elevate our employees so they can be the best version of themselves, help them in this regard to identify opportunities for mentoring in various platforms so they can grow. Soon there will be five generations embedded in our workforce.

The generations include:

• Veterans (1939 – 1947)

• Baby Boomers (1948 – 1963)

• Generation X (1964 – 1978)

• Millennials (1979 – 1991)

• Generation Z (1992 — present).

Generation Z will soon be entering our workforce. Imagine the scene — you have a fresh new graduate, part-time worker at 16 and a 60-year-old all working on the same project. How do you encourage engagement, collaboration and productivity with various work styles?

When cross-pollinating workgroups, be sure to recognize the benefits each brings to the table.

The Veteran Generation or also termed the Traditionalist Generation is our first generation to launch into the workplace. They bring great traditional values by all sense of the word. They grew up during the Great Depression and its aftermath. They had to work hard for education, housing and necessities of life. They had a solid work ethic instilled into their lifestyle and their children. They prefer handwritten letters and notes as a preferred communication style and phone as a secondary method.

Baby Boomers aka the Silent Generation is one of our largest generations. This generation challenged traditional values by rejecting them and redefining them in some cases. In post-war communities, Baby Boomers had opportunities for increased education, housing and affluence. This generation is known for having a bit more privilege than other generations. Communication preferences tend to be through the phone.

Generation X also known as latchkey kids. This generation is known for a time when divorce rates were increasing, parents worked outside the home, childcare was not readily available and therefore children spent time at home between when school ended and when parent(s) arrived home from work. They are typically recognized for active, happy, and achieving a work-life balance. The cohort has been credited with entrepreneurial tendencies. Communication preference is email.

Millennials are technology savvy, team-oriented, diverse, possess a strong sense of civic duty, excellent multi-taskers, social butterflies, change agents, do-ers, and optimist. Tapped into social media, 81 percent of millennials are on Facebook and more are other mediums such as Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. Millennials care about and support causes, not specific organizations. Forthy six percent of millennials volunteered for a cause affiliated with a social issue they cared about in the past month according to a 2016 Millennial Impact Report. Communication preferences are texting.

Generation Z’s greatest influencers are their parents as they guide their decisions on education, professional decision making, and their perspective of friends and teachers are important as well. Curiosity is something that tends to drive us all, but is truly is a great driver of this generation. Technology has always been at their fingertips, they were born with it. Hence, they want lots of information. They are quite entrepreneurial while balance job security and work/life balance. Although not quite sure yet on communication preferences, it may be texting or even social media such as Snapchat.

After recognizing descriptors and talents of each workforce set, you can balance your teams more appropriately. Do not assume that a pledge form or board platform will be sufficient to obtain commitment from any generation. Understand the importance of what is meaningful not only to the generation but also to the individual you are working with. Whether it is a Veteran or a Millennial, they are likely to push back on a team project if they do not feel as though they are providing an impact on the final output.

Many younger generations feel their leadership skills are not fully developed or underutilized in the workplace. We have a tremendous amount of talent in our youth as well in all generations.

Do not stereotype based on a title, rather embrace their strengths and passions on projects to make your business a better place to work.

Heather Strohm is a community development regional educator for the Southwest Region of Purdue University Extension who regularly contributes a Business Cents column for the Tribune-Star. She can be reached at

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