Generational Attitudes Toward Behavior

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A generation is defined by demographics and key life events that shape, at least to some degree, distinctive generational characteristics. Although sources disagree on the exact birthdates that define each generation, that is a consensus that employees over 60 in 2006 belong to the Traditionalist generation. Those in their mid-40s to 60 are Baby Boomers. Employees in their late 20s to early 40s are Generation X. The new generation entering the workplace, in their early 20s or younger, is generally called Generation Y.

Traditionalists may be credited with the typical work environment, where individuals work in the office from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., along with frequent evening and weekend work and extended work hours during tax season. Traditionalists are frugal, hard-working conformists who respect authority and put duty before pleasure. They spent most of their careers with one or two employers. Nonworking wives typically tended to family members to support the long hours husbands spent at the office. Although they are steadily retiring from the workforce, Traditionalists remain connected and influential.

Having been raised by Traditionalists parents, Baby Boomers entered the workplace with a strong work ethic, but also as dual-career couples, with highly educated women working alongside men. Baby Boomers value personal growth, hard work, individuality, and equality of the sexes. They question authority and have led a trend toward less-hierarchical work structures. They have had smaller families and enjoyed affluent lifestyles that led to their being labeled the "McGeneration." With this comes a trend away from long-term relationships, both personal, through divorce and second marriages, and professional, through multiple employers, downsizing, reengineering, and second careers. Boomers are 30% of the population, but represent the heart of today's management. They are leading a trend toward delayed retirement, with nearly 80% wanting to...
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