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Mixed-age teams: When baby boomers meet Generation Z in the workplace


When young people work together with old people, misunderstandings can quickly arise. Good generation management helps mixed-age teams.

When young people work together with old people, misunderstandings can quickly arise.

Good generation management helps mixed-age teams.

Many older people are retiring later and later, young people are pouring into the job market with good qualifications: in some companies up to five generations are now coming together.

Some conflicts can arise from this.

But it also offers a lot of potential to learn from each other and make the team strong together.

Boomer, X, Y or Z: Which generations are there?


A mixed-age team in a meeting.

© IMAGO/Vasily Pindyurin

The majority of humanity currently belongs to six generations.

Each grew up under very specific social, economic and political circumstances that shaped their lives.

This connects people in certain age groups – and sometimes alienates them from older and younger generations.

This is what the current generations are called and what makes them special:

  • The Silent Generation (ca. 1922–1945):

    These people grew up or were born during World War II.

    You know great shortages and massive insecurities.

    And that's exactly what they want to avoid in their working life as much as possible.

    You like it quiet and safe - and therefore prefer to keep your worries and thoughts to yourself.

    This makes them the "silent generation".

    Some also call them "traditionalists", because everything should stay the way it is.

    Most members of this age group are already retired.

    But they can still be found in family businesses in particular and may even have a say.

  • Baby boomers (1946–1964):

    Baby boomers are the generation of the economic miracle, but they inherited the uncertainties of the war from their parents.

    For people of this age, work is very important.

    It often takes precedence over private life.

    On the other hand, they often find it difficult to use digital media.

    When in doubt, they prefer to pick up the phone.

  • Generation X (1965–1979):

    With Generation X, the desire for security dwindled.

    Nevertheless, a permanent job is even more important to them than a good salary.

    But unlike the baby boomers, Generation Xers are not workaholics.

    They work to ensure a good standard of living, not on principle.

  • Generation Y or Millennials (1980-1995):

    Millennials are looking for meaningful work.

    It is important to them that work is fun and compatible with private life.

    They want flexible working hours and space for self-realization.

    They like to blur the lines between work and private life.

    Generation Y is the first to grow up with digital media.

  • Generation Z (1996-2010):

    With Gen Z, a young generation is entering the job market that is better educated than ever before.

    On the other hand, the young people have high demands on their job and present them with self-confidence.

    They strictly separate work and private life.

    Digital media and social networks are an integral part of their everyday life - and often also ensure a short attention span.

  • Generation Alpha (since 2011):

    This is the generation of children who are currently being born.

    She will only start working in the next few years.

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Five generations in the world of work: these conflicts can arise

Twenty-year-old job starters and sixty-year-old specialists often have very different attitudes towards life and work.

This can lead to conflicts in everyday life.

Young people find Baby Boomers old-fashioned or criticize Generation X status thinking. Baby Boomers have a strong work ethic and are not easily spooked.

A secure job is often more important to them than a feel-good atmosphere.

The self-confident demands of younger people do not go down well with them.

They also don't think much of the work ethic of future generations and consider them lazy.

Generation Z, however, favors efficient work over long hours in the office.

Generation X and Millennials are known for their "quiet quitting": If the working conditions are no longer suitable,

just do the work by the book.

A no go for the older ones.

The tone of conversation in the company has also changed: Baby boomers value respect, especially towards their superiors, while younger employees tend to take it easy and are increasingly doing away with the polite form in the work environment.

Thanks to generation management, mixed-age teams work 

Good communication can accommodate many differences before they become conflicts.

In a benevolent corporate culture, in which employees treat each other with respect and understanding, needs can be explained openly.

In return, everyone benefits from one another: the young are given the experience of the older ones, baby boomers may be infected by the innovative spirit of the following generations or learn something new.

The company, in turn, attracts a committed and productive workforce. 

With this body language, the job interview goes wrong

With this body language, the job interview goes wrong

These measures promote respectful coexistence between the generations

  • Career starters learn from experienced employees if they are given an older mentor for induction.

    In return, perhaps the young can pass on their knowledge to the older ones?

  • Team building measures or just going out to eat together during the break: If you get into conversation outside of the actual work, you will certainly find more things in common than you thought.

    Friendly interaction also means that difficulties are addressed more quickly.

  • Pay attention to sensitivities: Digital natives have a shorter attention span.

    In return, they often manage to work very efficiently in a short time.

    The older employees get, the more physical sensitivities they bring with them.

    They may need more rest, work slower, or be absent more often for health reasons.

    A good team takes everyone into consideration.

List of rubrics: © IMAGO/Vasily Pindyurin

Source: merkur

All life articles on 2023-01-25

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