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American Today

On Campus

Minding the Generation Gap

By Adrienne Frank

For the first time in American history, four generations of workers are congregating over the office water cooler.

Veterans, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials—groups whose birth years span eight decades—bring unique values, histories, and attitudes to the office, which can sometimes result in a clash of work styles. Thirty-something employees might bemoan the meetings favored by Boomers, while Veterans might not get younger workers’ predilection for telecommuting from their neighborhood Starbucks.

As is the case with any aspect of diversity, Sheila Way says knowledge is key to building understanding.

“Ask questions of the people you work with, start a conversation around these generational issues,” recommends Way, manager of workplace learning and development, who leads a biannual course on generational differences. “The best way to learn is to hear from people in their own words.”

Here, American Today presents personal, lifestyle, and workplace characteristics by generation, to help spark those conversations.

Register now for the Human Resources training session on four generations in the workplace. The two-hour course, led by Sheila Way, will be held Apr. 1, from 2 to 4 p.m. in Mary Graydon Center 200. Sign up on the portal, under “employment.”