When one thinks about the workplace and dedication to the job, different pictures come to mind with different age groups. Generation “X” (Baby Boomers) generally take a “no distractions” and just-keep-at-it-‘til-it’s-done approach. Generation “Y” (Bloggers), on the other hand, like to “get things out of the way” in order to move on to something else. Obviously, this can and does, cause workplace tensions. Gen “X” workers consider it very important to pay their dues and advance at a gradual pace within the organization. Gen “Y” workers, anxious to move ahead, see themselves as completely capable of taking on anything. They are very capable individuals; however, they often do not attack the problem in the same manner as their supervisors. As a result, this can lead to considerable misunderstanding on both sides of the generation equation.

Although pay and benefits are important to both the “X” and “Y” workers, this is often the primary motivator of Gen “X”. Both Generation “X” and “Y” workers appreciate being “thanked” for a job well done, but Generation “Y” members truly thrive on praise and recognition. Unless both groups are aware of the inherent differences, uneasiness can result.


Here are some strategic steps that Generation “X” can usein working with Generation “Y”:

1. Mentor those for whom you are responsible. Take time to help them develop and establish career goals. Be the person with whom they can talk and share ideas and concerns.

2. Communicate in a clear and understandable way. Remember that Gen “Y” is tuned into the electronic world; memos and notes are not their first means of communication.

3. Be Flexible in the way you lead. More often than not, young professionals seek praise and recognition for their work.

Gen “Y” employees also must understand that Gen “X” managers are there to guide them, not discredit them.

1. Share your Career Goals with a trusted mentor who may assist you in a career path that benefits you and your employer.

2. Ask questions so you understand what you need to do to grow in your position and within the company.

3. Shift your focus to come across as a “team” player rather than someone interested only in your own growth. Attention to these points can help both Generations “X” and “Y” flourish in the organization.


Mary Clare Sheridan, Arbor Family Counseling