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Sriram Bharadwaj


Generational difference and its effect in the coporate workspace

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6 months ago
6 months ago
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Corporate behaviour :

 a analysis of its evolution with respect to generation

Homo - sapiens were thought to have roamed the planet about 350,000 years ago, according to the theory of evolution(Dickerson). However the first signs of formal human civilisation could be observed only 6 thousand years ago, implying the slow rate of development of what was destined to become society. In contract the rate of development could be stated as exponential 4000 BCE onwards. The world saw the creation of great civilisations and empires with massive wealth and power, but the idea of enormous self owned businesses were not yet conceived thus the concept of corporate was not as well. But as time had progressed into the 19th century, humanity had gone through the great industrial revolution, at which point in time a paradigm shift was observed. Where the focus had gone from public domain/sectors companies to large private corporation, for example the Rockefeller Standard Oil Company. The fundamental metamorphose that had started to shape what the landscape of industry and the structure corporate was finally seen to be developing. Since then the world has been under the influence of various events such wars, economics recessions and the industry changing innovative companies, corporates, with examples ranging corporations like Boeing, Lockheed Martin that had played a vital role in the world wars and transportation to with was the Apple computer has changed the way a person interacts with smart electronics. Finally the access to knowledge has changed to the world like never before and the over all effect that it has had over with its own level over the years makes the world into what it was, is and will be. For example the vital role of communication and the internet that plays on both the household state as well as the corporate state. All of these factors both change industry and most of all shaping the general public. 

According to the Collins dictionary, Generation is the period of time, usually considered to be about thirty years, that it takes for children to grow up and become adults and have children of their own.

Generation were initially defined by the time period that people were born in for example Generation X was thought to be those born during the 1965 to 1980. But this kind of division is not accurate, as for the most recent generations has been observed, for example the lines between a Generation Y and generation Z is not very clear, thus today generations are defined mostly by the behaviour.

This change in the general public’s behaviour causes changes in the behaviour and the way that the future generation is raised, thus effecting the behaviour of the future generations. The way that one generation is raised, in terms of parenting and mentoring and the conditions that one grows up in makes that generation into what it is and way that it thinks. This has an adverse effect on the way that the function. Certain events will have either a different effect or no effect at all for the same event that had happened. For example the way that generation Y would have perceived the events of 9-11 and the way that generation Z would have perceived it are very different or today in most cases have no effect generation z as they are too young.

Thus with each passing decade there is this shift in the though process and general behaviour of the public that has its effect on the corporate landscape. This paper seeks to understand this change in the change in the behaviour of the workforce across the various generation. While addressing the various causes to these changes begging the question of how it has effected the corporate workspace. The corporate landscape could look like in the future with the generation Z. The analysis though will address the general world will be focused towards the said evolution in the United States and Western Europe.

The various generations that will be addressed in this paper will be the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y and finally Generation Z.

First, the Silent Generation whom were born after 1922 and before 1946. This generation is know as the silent or the traditionalist one because they were children were seen, but not heard and being born during the after math of both the world wars and the great depression of 1930. 

The first world war had seen a great deal of employment both in the war front as well as for industry. Due to the constant fear of undersupply, production was always in full swing thus causing a great deal of economic and technology development. In contrast the Great Depression say a massive issue of over production, as the war had made the industrialists vey rich while depleting the wealth of the general public. Labour was under appreciated, this had caused a wave of unemployment along with it flooded in insecurities among those that still held jobs. To add on to these issues the concept of McCarthyism was in practice, in which there was a fashion of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence(Shimshoni , University of Missouri) . 

 Being born after the first world war and having watched their elder family members suffer through the major events mentioned through out their childhood. This brought about the feeling of being needed. As the Second World War came around this feeling had only strengthened. As they were watching those old enough to go fight and go back to work for industry. The general public’s patriotic emotion had only aided in instilling this young generation of children with the desire to help in the war. As they had grown up, their main concern is financial stability and carried a waste not want not attitude, as this was the attitude that was held by their parents. Coupled with traditional views and simplicity, they were not very different form the way the previous generation war supplemented by the fact that they carried this attitude of appreciating what had and received (Shimshoni , University of Missouri). 

Traditionalists tend to be hard working, financially conservative and cautious. Organisational loyalty is generally perceived as very important due to the fear of possible a accusations and they aim at keeping the same job for life for security. They are not very risk oriented, and have great respect for authority. This tends to lead to a command and control style of leadership. Their interactive style is highly individual and due to the limitation to technology of that time period their mode of communication was through written formal Memos (YUEN, Sze Hang). 

Thus due to this behaviour, the over all impact that they had played on the corporate landscape was almost little to nothing form previous corporate structures. But this can be considered as the base or foundation corporate structure that can used to future structures for comparison and analysis (Hayens).

Next comes the Baby Boomers. They People born between the end of World War 2 (1945) and the late 1960s, During the boom, almost 77 million babies were born in the United States alone, comprising nearly 40% of the American population. The growth in population created a secondary spur to the economy. More people created more consumer demand, triggering an increase in manufacturing and production. Average income rose during these decades, which further increased demand. This upward spiral created a long-lasting economic boom that raised the standard of living throughout the country and the developed world. In addition some of the events such as the United States placing the first man on the moon. At the same time there were the adverse edicts of the Cold war as well as the Vietnam war. Along with various civil, women’s and environmental movements were in full effect.

This generation was under the influence of a great economic boom that was partly the result of the second world war. Unlike after the first world war rooted the cause for the great depression, this time there was an economic peek. The second world war saw the triumph of democracy over fascism, two very different political methods of leadership. While the United States and the other influential powers in Europe ere on the side of democracy, saw the emphasis on concepts such as freedom of speech and civil rights among the population.Adding to the feeling of domination there is also the space race and the start of the cold war. This too is essentially a war between communism and democracy. This rise in confidence sparked the people’s expression of such issues towards the government and authority. Thus they are provided as more less optimistic, and distrust government. 

This kind of attitude towards the government had also spread to the way that rules an enforced by the people. They believe rules should be obeyed unless they are contrary to what they want; then they’re to be broken.

This generation did not yet have the full use of computers at the private level. Only companies like IBM ( international Business Machines) had the best access computers for productivity and also used only by NASA ( National Aeronautics and Space Administration) at the time for space launches. Thus the influence of these Business Machines were not in use by the public thus for the most part they did not change the strategies of working interns of productivity. 

This time saw a boost of telecom availability to business so the use had also increased, becoming the primary mode of communication. With the ability to contact a person with the telephone, companies and employees had made it a point to relationships and teamwork and it was found to be critical to for the success of the firm. With easy communication came increased globalisation and increased outsourcing in counties where cheap labour was available, usually third world counties or ones that has most recently gained independence. Coupled with this and the ability to voice one’s opinion because of which the overall productive had been reduced to the famous 9am to 5 pm time schedule only during weekdays. Baby Boomers were brought up in times of social and political change and economic prosperity. Work has been a defining part of their approach to life, sometimes finding it difficult to maintain a good work/home balance. Their long term commitment is more to their job rather than to a specific organisation and they seek personal growth, recognition and gratification(YUEN, Sze Hang). The telephone is their preferred communication tool.

Thus as in this case the baby boomers, there was an observable change. There was a change in mode of communication, making globalisation and outsourcing a more feasible concept. Changing the corporate landscape in terms of how one’s opinion is voiced thus a more comfortable work schedule. But there is also more imbalance between work and personal life (Soni and Anagat, 56-58,"Birkman: Experts In Occupational & Behaviorial Assessments").

Next comes Generation X. A label attributed to people born during the 1960s and 1970s. Members of Generation X are often described as cynical or disaffected, though this reputation obviously does not apply to all people born during this era. This generation has an increased understanding of technology, having grown up during the age of computers. Sometimes also shortened to Generation X. 

This time had seen the end of the cold war and the Vietnam war. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the U.S.S.R, puts stress on the idea that democracy trumps socialism and communism. This brought about a change in the way that a government deals with and supports via. changes in policies, in the formation of new enterprises. Such an event boosts the openness of the world in both economic and cultural formats. Thus bringing about a wide range of diversities and the exchange of knowledge. This generation was more qualified then the last with an increasing percentage of professional degree or even master’s degree holders. This level of qualification were for employment motives and for the gain of knowledge. This generation also saw that a place of work was not only for one to provide a service for the pay but it is also a place for them to learn("Birkman: Experts In Occupational & Behaviorial Assessments"). 

One of the key changes that was observed is the implementation of smart work over head work. This was due to a new found a value towards one’s time. This could be traced back to the increased flow of ideas from different corners of the world, as at this time there was the Nixon resignation and the Watergate scandal what had effected the people of the powerful western countries. There was a drop in the confidence in the government/leadership of the countries as well as the in their companies. Thus this generation also seeks out people to whom they can invest loyalty indeed of putting faith in the system at large("Birkman: Experts In Occupational & Behaviorial Assessments").

During this time there was an increase in the institution of gaining independence from one’s family. This can be traced to the quest for emotional security as a cause to the reasons for problems in family structures and emotion instability. Because of which the manner in which a person of this generation behaves at the workspace, can be reflected with the way that work is taken with more involvement in certain tasks for usually emotion asylum. They expect immediate and ongoing feedback and is comfortable giving feedback to others

This kind of independence is also observed as more people gain entrepreneurial mindset(Soni and Anagat, 56-58),Wijeyekoon). 

This was the time that the internet had stated to become more widely available, along side the more enterprise available computers. Computers and the internet, the availability of cable tv were not only though of as a tool but also as a basic store of knowledge. This knowledge and easier access to it had only aided the people’s entrepreneurial mindset("Birkman: Experts In Occupational & Behaviorial Assessments").

This generation experienced times of significant change. The institution of the family changed as divorce became widespread, while the economic and political situation became more unstable. As a consequence, they developed behaviours of independence, resilience and adaptability more strongly than previous generations, but also a little cynicism and distrust towards authority. Generation X members are more ethnically diverse and they are much more segmented as an audience, which was aided by the rapid expansions of cable TV channels and the internet(Wijeyekoon, Hayens).

Thus in the case of the Generation X, it has been seen that due to event like the fall of the U.S.S.R and overall change in family structure. This generation has changed the core reason for work and so morphing the corporate landscape to be able to add value to the employe, by providing a place to learn.

Generation X is followed by Generation Y. The generation of people born during the 1980s and early 1990s. The name is based on Generation X. Members of Generation Y are often referred to as echo boomers because they are the children of parents born during the baby boom (the baby boomers). Because children born during this time period have had constant access to technology (computers, cell phones) in their youth, they have required many employers to update their hiring strategy in order to incorporate updated forms of technology. Also called millennials, echo boomers, internet generation(Fries).

The largest cohort since the Baby Boomers, their high numbers reflect their births as that of their parent generation. Generation Y kids are known as incredibly sophisticated, technology wise, immune to most traditional marketing and sales pitch, as they not only grew up with it all, they’ve seen it all and been exposed to it all since early childhood. Generation Y members are much more racially and ethnically diverse and they are much more segmented as an audience aided by the rapid expansion in Cable TV channels, satellite radio, the Internet, e-zines, etc. Generation Y is less brand loyal and the speed of the Internet has led the cohort to be similarly flexible and changing in its fashion, style consciousness and where and how it is communicated with. Generation Y kids often raised in dual income or single parent families have been more involved in family purchases, everything from groceries to new cars.

Some of the feature that the Millennials generation possesses when it comes to workspace and work environment are as follow they are not sacred to change jobs( job hopping), they constantly require new incentives to stay at a particular company, stay in close contact with their superiors and peers, and most of all want o work with a purpose( to cause a impact in society)(Birkman: Experts In Occupational & Behaviorial Assessments ,YUEN, Sze Hang).

There was once a time where we held on to our jobs with a vice grip — some of us may even have parents who stayed at a company for 20 years or more. Today, resumes with two-year stints at various companies are becoming the norm. Half of the employees surveyed say they are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings, and 35 percent of workers reported changing jobs within the past three years( Fries, Birkman: Experts In Occupational & Behaviorial Assessments).

Employees aren’t just looking to hop around for the experience, they want a pay raise to come with it. About four in 10 employees say a significant increase in income is very important to them when considering a new job. This rang true for more male employees than female employee, and more millennials and Generation Xers than baby boomers.

You’d think the benefits millennials value would be the juice bars, onsite gyms and pet-friendly offices. But the benefits they value align with those that other generations see as most important: things closely related to quality of life like health insurance, paid vacation and retirement plans( Fries, Birkman: Experts In Occupational & Behaviorial Assessments).

Once a year performance reviews (which tend to be one-sided, with your boss rattling off answers to a questionnaire) are out. What millennials seeks is ongoing feedback, clear goals and collaborative goal setting, which gives them a voice in setting performance expectations they see as fair, relevant and challenging( Fries, Birkman: Experts In Occupational & Behaviorial Assessments).

More frequent, informal check-ins with managers allow employees to better see how their day-to-day work is linked to the organization’s goals (which makes them 3.5 times more likely to be engaged). Plus, employees who have had conversations with their manager in the last six months about their goals and successes are almost three times more likely than other employees to be engaged at the workplace( Fries, Birkman: Experts In Occupational & Behaviorial Assessments).

Most workers, many of whom are millennials want their work to have meaning and purpose. They want to learn and develop. They want their job to fit their life.

Thanks to millennials, long gone are the days where you log your eight hours behind a desk doing the bare minimum until you can clock out at 5 on the dot.

Most workers, many of whom are millennials, approach a role and a company with a highly defined set of expectations( Fries).

Millennials have grown up in an electronics-filled and increasingly online and socially networked world. This has had a strong impact on their approach to work. They were brought up with an ‘empowered’ style of parenting, which has led to them not being afraid to express their opinion as well as having a tendency to be self-confident. This group was also raised in a consumer economy and as such, expects to be able to influence the terms and conditions of their job. They value a more flexible approach to work and social media plays a central role in their communication("Birkman: Experts In Occupational & Behaviorial Assessments").

Finally there is the youngest generation, Generation Z

Generation Z is the demographic cohort following Generation Y, also known as the Millennials or the Millennial Generation; other names suggested for the cohort include iGeneration (iGen), Generation Tech, Generation Wii, Net Gen, Digital Natives and Plurals.

The dates given for Generation Z range from the mid-1990s through the second decade of this century, although precise years vary according to the source. At over two billion individuals, Generation Z is the most populous generational cohort of all time.

In common with Millennials, Generation Z is comfortable with technologies that are fairly recent for older generations, and Generation Z has grown up in the current environment of ubiquitous mobile communications. The younger members of the cohort may not remember any other environment. As of 2015, 77 percent aged 12-to-17 in the United States owned cell phones. Not surprisingly, texting is the cohort’s preferred communication mode, followed by social media interaction(Hearn).

Some of the other characteristics of Generation Z within the U.S., in contrast with earlier generations are that they are more racial diversity, less traditional (nuclear) family backgrounds, more single-parent and same-sex parent families, more likely to have friends from various ethnic, religious and racial groups, more risk-adverse. Most of the generation z has the most radical thinking ability and more inpatient(Hearn, University of Missouri,). This impatience can cause an increase in the phenomenon of job hopping(YUEN, Sze Hang).

In the workplace, Generation Z expects greater flexibility and the capacity to work remotely, collaborative and seamlessly across their various devices. Making a meaningful contribution to the world is also important. Generation Z individuals expect to have their input welcomed and respected, and are less tolerant of authoritarian environments such as a hierarchical corporate culture.   

Work Cited 

"Birkman: Experts In Occupational & Behaviorial Assessments". Birkman International, 2018, Accessed 13 Sept 2018.

Dickerson, K.. A new fossil just rewrote the timeline of human evolution - here's what it looks like now.2018 Business Insider. Available at: [Accessed 23 Sep. 2018].

Hayens, Barry . “The impact of generational differences on the workplace.” Journal of Corporate Real Estate, 2011, Accessed 13 Sept 2018.

Hearn, Stuart. "How Will Generation Z Affect The Workplace? - Glassdoor For Employers". Glassdoor For Employers, 2018, Accessed 13 Sept 2018.

Fries, K. ”7 Ways Millennials Are Changing Traditional Leadership.”, Accessed 21 Sep. 2018.

Soni, Harvinder, and Anagat Ashish. "Understanding Generation Gap At Work Place". IOSR Journal of Business and Management, 2016,, Accessed 13 Sept 2018.

Shimshoni, Jonathan. “Technology, Military Advantage, and World War I: A Case for Military Entrepreneurship.” International Security, vol. 15, no. 3, 1990, pp. 187–215. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Wijeyekoon, Dhanushka. “Generation gap and its effect on organizational performance”., 2015, Accessed 13 Sept 2018. 

University of Missouri, , (2018). Available at:, Accessed 18 Sep. 2018.

YUEN, Sze Hang. "Examining The Generation Effects On Job-Hopping Intention By Applying The Theory Of Planned Behavior (TPB)". Department of Applied Psychology, 2018, , Accessed 14 Sept 2018.

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