Friday, 19 May 2023 11:28

Boomers, Zoomers & Generation X

The workforce in the UK is currently experiencing a collection of circumstances that have given rise to a noticeable diversity in age amongst employees. But it’s not unique to the UK. Multi-generational work teams are being reported globally. It is now not uncommon to see employees from four or five different generations working alongside one another.

We welcome and applaud diversity in the workplace. It provides a larger talent pool to recruit from, improves businesses innovation and problem solving and provides a broader range of perspectives upon which to base decisions. Whilst age diversity brings these benefits and others, it also comes with its own set of challenges.

Age diversity has become more prevalent as people are living longer and recognise that they will need to work for longer to ensure they accumulate sufficient wealth to see them comfortably through their retirement; magnified by the current cost of living crisis and soaring food costs.

There are also the indirect effects of Covid such as the rise in remote and flexible working, which make continuing to work more attractive and easier to combine with other interests. Plus, the UK’s persistently high vacancy rate has meant that employers have had to cast a wider net to recruit for the 1.1million vacancies (ONS figures April 2023) we are currently experiencing nationally.

A number of labels have been attributed to different generations which many of us will recognise, and through social and media coverage these have tended to stick, although there is no scientific methodology behind them. They are:

  • Silent Generation (Traditionalists) – born 1928-1945
  • Baby Boomers – born 1946-1964
  • Generation X – born 1965-1980
  • Generation Y (Millennials) – born 1981-1996
  • Generation Z – born 1997-2012

These labels define different generations solely and strictly by the years of their birth which is a position we would contest. They do not account for individual’s life choices; when they start a family for example. nor do they account for education or affluence. Wealthier individuals are proven to have had better and earlier access to technology and therefor the Internet; one of the prime markers for identifying Generation Z.

If we do want to adopt labels such as these, we should account for a degree of overlap.

Regardless of what we call the different generations, what defines them and whether they overlap, as employers, we must recognise their existence and that there may be a need to modify our management styles in order to get the best from them. Some of the challenges presented by an age-diverse workforce include:

Communication issues: Not only is there likely to be differences arising from use and familiarity with the vast array of technologies and platforms that is available, there is likely to be differences in communication style preference as well as interpretation and tone. Selecting the best way to connect with team members and avoid communication breakdowns requires careful consideration.

Negative stereotyping: As with any situation involving diversity, there is a risk that individuals will have preconceptions of those in a different age group. The older generations may consider the younger people to be entitled and oversensitive, whilst the younger groups may see older employees as inflexible technology-phobic. Careful management is required to avoid a toxic company culture and age discrimination against both young and old. “Boomer” has disrespectful overtones and expresses criticism of someone’s age and perceived lack of digital awareness.

Differing expectations: Employees of different generations may desire the same outcomes from their employment nor hold the same expectations. How individuals accomplish their duties, take on new information or expect to have their performance evaluated can vary greatly. Furthermore, what is considered a desirable benefits package is likely to vary wildly across different generations.

Employers must embrace generational diversity to reap the rewards that an age-diverse workforce can bring. However they must maintain their employees’ dignity at work and safeguard their wellbeing for all age groups.

Tracey Clark, CEO of local charity Young Gloucestershire will be making a guest presentation on the topic of a Multi-Generational workforce at our Breakfast Club next Thursday, 25th May at The Leonardo Hotel, Cheltenham. It’s free to attend and places are still available.

In the meantime, talk to us about training for managers as well as our Dignity at Work and Effective Communication training. Contact us on 01452 331331, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Read 723 times Last modified on Friday, 19 May 2023 12:27


HR Champions provide first class HR and Employment Law support and advice to UK businesses; operationally and strategically. If you're an employer you'll potentially need some, if not all, of the services we offer.

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