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Gen X vs Gen Y in the Workplace: Making Generational Differences Work

Gen X vs Gen Y in the Workplace: Making Generational Differences Work

If you’re a member of Gen X, you’ve likely heard someone in your age group utter that infamous phrase: “Ugh, Millennials!” …you know, the same phrase Baby Boomers uttered about your generation a few decades ago? Whether you’re a member of Gen X or Gen Y, here’s how to make generational differences work in the workplace.

As in any multi-generational situation, frustrations are expected. If you’re a Gen Y worker (born 1977-2002*) or a Gen X worker (born 1965-1980), you are part of the largest segment of employees in America… and you’ll be colleagues for a long time, so it’s time to figure out how to work well together.

When it comes to bridging generational gaps, understanding generational differences and building on commonalities is key.

Generation Work Styles Career Goals Values


Work Styles

Career Goals


Gen YEnergy, ideas, productivity. Education versus experience (question authority). Relationships. Casual. What’s next?Money, Work-Life Balance, Change, Impact NOW!Flexibility, Control, Productivity, Independence, Fun
Gen XIndependent (want feedback but no need to supervise), resilient, critical thinking. Get the job done! Informal.Career first aiming toward Work-life balance, MoneyFlexibility, Freedom, Responsiveness, Fairness, Fun.

Bridging the Gap

Believe it or not, Generation X and Y actually have a lot in common – and they can create great teams if they are given the space to do what they do best.

• Social responsibility, desire for work-life balance, want to have fun, keep things moving, productivity versus process, forward-thinking.

Building on Strengths:
• If you have a project that requires multi-tasking and technology and you have time to actively supervise and provide feedback – assign it to Gen Y. They want engagement.
• If you have a project that needs to get done and you have little time for supervision – trust Gen X to take care of it. They want freedom.

See your Colleague as a Person First:
• Think beyond stereotypes. Try to step back and think of the other generation as a person first. Imagine them as someone you know outside of work of a similar age. This can help you to relate to them in human terms rather than in terms of competition or a source of aggravation.

At Good.Co, we believe that part of working well with others is understanding yourself and knowing where you belong, no matter what generation you are.


*There is no general consensus re: dates for Gen Y so we refer to the broadest range. Narrower ranges include 1978-1989, 1981-1995, 1982-2004.



As Good.Co's Digital Marketing Manager, Lisa has the pleasure of spending her days engaging with the Good.Co community and talking, tweeting and blogging about workplace happiness. Say hi to Lisa on Twitter: @LisaChatroop