Generations in the Workplace: What Happens When They Change

Generations in the Workplace What Happens When They ChangeRecent headlines confirm a trend we’ve all felt: Millennials are taking over our workforce:


These shifts in generations in the workplace happen every 20-30 years, and corporate America has survived, so why does it always get so much attention?


Simple: because every time a new generation “takes over” the workplace, the workplace changes—dramatically—and managers need to adapt or they won’t be able to attract, retain and engage the backbone of the new workplace.

Generations in the Workplace: These Shifts Produce Tectonic Change

Certainly the global economy and technology revolution have changed workplace conditions and tools. What happens in the daily office environment when a generational shift occurs? What new benefits do companies and managers offer in order to attract and retain top talent?

If you ever watched Mad Men, the workplace climate of the 1950’s and 60’s was dramatically changed as women and people of color secured permanent places within the workforce.

How about this one: Remember when men still wore ties and “casual Friday” was a novel idea? Or maybe when offering health benefits and 2-weeks paid vacation (after 1+ years of service) were big inducements? That was the 1970’s and 80’s. Thank you, Baby Boomers.

Then GenX came along and traded in “lifer” ambitions and pensions for transferrable cash retirement accounts, career flexibility, professional development, annual bonus plans, maternity leave and prescription benefits, and something called “work-life balance”.

And now we’re starting to see corporate America shift to meet the worldview of the newest generation: the Millennials.

The changes they’re bringing go beyond the standard issue laptop and company phone. Some trends already being widely adopted include:

  • Casual dress code
  • “Work from home” Fridays
  • Peer-to-peer rewards
  • Paternity leave
  • Collaborative decision making
  • Entrepreneurial management
  • The clear-cutting of cubical farms to make room for social space… complete with huddle rooms, charging bars, and beanbag circles

For veterans of corporate America, these shifts look pretty radical, as does the Millennial character—informal, hyper-social, natively mobile.

But the Millennials have only just become the majority in the workplace.

These are only the first shifts we’re seeing in the workplace.

The biggest changes are yet to come.

Here’s what we’ve found:

Click here for free data and analysis on our changing IT workplace, pulled from our most recent survey, “What Do IT Pros Most Want From Their Careers?”

What IT Pros WantIf you want to jump-start your engagement efforts, grab our new report “What IT Pros Most Want”. It goes deep into this question of what your people really want from their careers. Give them that, and they’ll never leave.

Click here for your free copy of “What IT Pros Most Want”


What happens when dominant generations in the workplace change?

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