From Boomer to Gen Z: Managing Your Multi-Generational Workforce

by Pranav Ramesh
October 18, 2022

“Innovation is crucial for any tech company and diversity plays a significant role in this.”

– Sanjay Malhotra, co-founder and CTO of Clearbridge Mobile. 

Companies that truly embrace diversity are also reaping rewards. A recent study done by Harvard Business Review found diverse companies, especially in leadership and management roles, are 70% more likely to capture new markets and 45% more likely to attain market growth. 69% of executives in a Glassdoor survey saw diversity and inclusivity in the workplace as a high-priority issue.  

But diversity should go beyond race or gender, argues Meetesh Karia, CTO and Chief Data Officer of The Zebra. “It’s about background, perspective, age, education, and so much more.” Diverse backgrounds, upbringings, and cultures bring new ideas which in turn boost productivity, innovation, and morale. “Diverse teams who work cohesively encourage new ways of thinking and problem solving,” said Ofer Garnett, CTO and co-founder of YouAPPi Inc.  

Generational diversity should fall under a company’s diversity strategy, as one’s background and upbringing are often influenced heavily by the generation in which they grew up. Each generation in today’s workforce brings different values, beliefs, and worldviews with them that influence how they work, view authority, respond to change, and communicate. Therefore, it is important to understand these differences to not only attract employees of varying generations but also retain them.  


RELATED POST: Attaining Career Durability Through a Diverse Tech Portfolio

Sourcing our youngest workers

Born after 1996, Generation Z is the second-fastest growing generation in the workforce. They are the first truly digital generation, and theirs is the most globally connected world in history, where ideas and thoughts can be shared with virtually anyone from anywhere.  

This means Gen Z embraces technological advancements and is adaptable in a demanding environment. They value communication and expect feedback from their managers regularly. A study by The Center for Generational Kinetics found that 60% want constructive communication with their managers at least a few times a week, with 40% of those wanting it daily. And, interestingly enough, they want the communication to be face-to-face. Through constructive communication, they do not simply want to know they are doing a good job, they want to know where they can improve and how they can learn new skills.  

The same CGK study found that Gen Z prefers managers from prior generations rather than someone from their own. They value generational knowledge, and most want a manager that is also a mentor.  

Employers looking to recruit and retain Gen Z workers should offer mentorship, the ability to move and grow within the company, and provide meaningful and consistent communication and feedback.  

The fastest-growing workforce

Millennials are those born between roughly 1981-1996. They are the fastest growing and most educated generation and have been the largest in the US labor market at 40%. According to Forbes, by 2025, Millennials will make up nearly 75% of the global workforce, with many in leadership roles.  

Many of the characteristics that define Gen Z can also be applied to Millennials. They are tech-savvy, adaptable to a changing work environment, and prefer a flexible work schedule. They also want mentorship, feedback, and the ability to develop skills and grow.  

Unlike Gen Z, Millennials are often as pragmatic as they are paradoxical. A study by the Center for Creative Leadership found that Millennials are willing to work hard, and long hours, if they find the work engaging and meaningful, but are not as productive if they feel the task is meaningless or repetitive. They want independence in the workplace but also thrive in collaborative work environments where everyone’s voice can be heard. 

But Millennials (and Gen Z) will leave if they think they can grow elsewhere. A 2022 study by Microsoft found that most in both generations are willing to change employers if they feel stagnant or can gain skill elsewhere, but also willing to stay if their current employer offers continued training and room for change within.  

Employers should focus on those Millennials who buy into the company’s strategy and mission, as those are the employees who will excel.  

A generation of leaders

Born between 1965 and 1980, Generation X have seen their numbers decline in the workforce, though they still account for about a third of the labor market. Many prefer to be their boss, with 55% of all startups founded by a Gen Xer. 

Generally, Gen X values a work-life balance more so than career advancement and prefer to work to live rather than live to work. They are more than willing to find a job elsewhere if their needs are not being met by their current arrangement. Most prefer to work independently and with minimal supervision.  

But don’t be dismayed. Employers who can accommodate the wants of a Gen Xer will find a worker who is very productive, task-oriented, and willing to take risks.  


The retiring workforce 

Baby Boomers, or just Boomers, are those born between 1945 and 1964, the end of World War II and the beginning of the Vietnam War, respectively. The youngest are now in their fifties, and roughly 10,000 Boomers reach retirement age every day. However, they still make up roughly a quarter of all workers.  

Most Boomers are well-established in their careers at this point and have been in the workforce for decades. Unlike succeeding generations, Boomers are motivated primarily by compensation. Those who haven’t already are looking to retire comfortably as soon as eligible, and as many as 59% of Boomers who are parents are financially aiding their adult children, according to a survey from the National Endowment of Financial Education.  

That isn’t to say it’s all about the money. Boomers want loyalty from their employers and are willing to reciprocate. They also want to be mentors and pass on their generational knowledge, which would benefit any employer.  

Our seniormost workers

The youngest Traditionalists would be in their late seventies by this point, but they still make up nearly 2% of the U.S. labor market as of 2017. Born between 1928 and 1945, this generation dealt with one of the worst economic depressions in history and fought in the largest global conflict in history, yet still produced arguably the greatest technological leap in human history in the span of mere decades. It is no wonder they are called the Greatest Generation. 

Those companies lucky enough to want to add or keep a Traditionalist should know they are dependable, hardworking, fiercely loyal, and value respect above almost everything else.  


Having a diverse team of employees is vital for the success of any organization, especially those in the technology sector. CTOs would be well served to also understand and consider generational differences when filling open positions.  


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