Generations in the Workplace

Generations in the Workplace: Implications for Rehabilitation
NCRCA / VEWAA Spring Conference,
Atlantic Beach, NC
April, 2010 Andrew M. Byrne, MS, CRC
East Carolina University

Plan of action:
 Generational definitions
 Generational Characteristics
 Implications

The Generations Defined: GI/Silents (born 1925-1942) ~ 10% of workforce
Baby Boomers (born 1943-1960) ~ 44% of workforce
Generation X (born 1961-1981) ~ 34% of workforce
Millennials / Gen Y (born 1982 to …) ~ 12% of workforce

 Characteristics in the workplace:
Silent / GI Generation: Can-Do attitude, hard work, whatever it takes. Retirement. Loyalty / longterm. … “What’s technology?”

 Characteristics in the workplace:
Baby Boomers: Working hard for results, Often in charge, Energized by new
work challenges, Beginning to retire, Reforming the world, …“With technology if necessary.”

 Characteristics in the workplace:
Generation X: Balancing life, Informal, Embracing of diversity, Making back-up plans, Working independently, … Using technology to make things easier and more efficient.

 Characteristics in the workplace:
Millennials / Generation Y: Highly educated, often over-qualified, Optimistic, Receptive to authority and structure, Working in groups, Most likely to volunteer, Using technology to make the world better (and smaller)!

EXAMPLE discussion: Texting in the workplace
 Workplace Strategies
 Issues on the forefront:
 What does it mean to be “on time”? – solid workplace expectations
 Boundaries (e.g. social networking)
 Younger generations moving into positions of authority by attrition & talents
 (50% of the workforce is retiring now!)
 Career changes
 Comfort with technology
 Expectation of advancement

Howe, N. & Strauss, W. (2000). Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation. New
York, New York: Harper Collins.

Jones, S. & Fox, S. (2009). Generations Online in 2009.
Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2009.aspx

Powfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2008). Born digital : understanding the first generation of digital natives. New York, New York: Harper Collins.

Prensky, M. (2001), “Digital natives, digital immigrants”, On the Horizon, Vol.9,
No. 5

Society for Human Resource Management. (2005). Generational Differences Survey Report.

United States Census:

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