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The ABCs Of Generations X, Y And Z: What they expect in Life and in the Workplace

What separates Generation Y from X? How old is each generation? Are they really that different? If you’ve ever felt muddled by this “alphabet soup” of names — you’re not alone.

What stands out is that Millennial consumers represent the highest-spending generation in 2020 — with a projected $1.4 trillion. 

 And though their current wealth has been dragged down by not one but two “once-in-a-lifetime” economic crises during their most impactful career years, Millennials stand to inherit over $68 trillion from Baby Boomer and early Gen X parents by the year 2030. 

In the near future, three of the most studied generations will converge on the workplace at the same time: Generation X, the ones born before the 1980s but after the Baby Boomers; Generation Y, or Millennials, typically thought of as those born between 1984 and 1996; and Generation Z, those born after 1997, who are next to enter the workforce.  

A survey of 18,000 professionals and students across these three generations from 19 countries, found some important differences in their aspirations and values. To develop the next generation of organizational leaders, every employer needs to be asking: What do our younger workers want from the workplace and their lives? What drives them? What makes them achieve their full potential? So let’s dive in and explore the ABCs of these 3 generations! 


What sets these generations apart? First off, birth years! 


A common source of confusion when labeling generations is their age. Generational cohorts are defined (loosely) by birth year, not current age. The reason is simple — generations get older in groups. If you think of Millennials as college kids (18 – 22), then not only are you out of date — you’re thinking of a stage in life, not a generation. Millennials are now well out of college, and that life stage is dominated by Gen Z. 


The breakdown by age looks like this: 

Baby Boomers: Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. They’re currently between 57-75 years old (71.6 million in the U.S.) 

Gen X: Gen X was born between 1965 and 1979/80 and is currently between 41-56 years old (65.2 million people in the U.S.) 

 Gen Y: Gen Y, or Millennials, were born between 1981 and 1994/6. They are currently between 25 and 40 years old (72.1 million in the U.S.) 

Gen Y.1 = 25-29 years old (around 31 million people in the U.S.) 

Gen Y.2 = 29-39 (around 42 million people in the U.S.) 

 Gen Z: Gen Z is the newest generation, born between 1997 and 2012. They are currently between 6 and 24 years old.

Gen A: Generation Alpha starts with children born in 2012 and will continue at least through 2025, maybe later.  


  • Millennials or Digital Natives Members/People in this generation are called Millennials or Digital Natives. They do not know a life without the internet. Socializing via Facebook, Instagram and Co. is essential for them. The millennium generation, as it is often called, has grown up with the internet and new technologies like smartphones, laptops and social media. A comprehensive study from Docebo entitled Millennials in the Workplace found that opportunities for career progression were the most important aspect that can make an organization an attractive employer, with over half of those asked listing it as their number one factor when considering a new job. Further research from Gallup confirmed this, finding that 87% of millennials had expressed that professional growth and development opportunities were among their top priorities. 
  • Generation Y (aka Millennials) Millennials are the always switched-on generation. The instant and constant nature of chat tools and social media mean that this age group are always talking and always on the go. And that always switched-on attitude often overlaps into work, too. The blurring lines and crossed boundaries between professional and personal time means that many millennials are now seeking employers who offer a true work-life balance, respecting personal downtime and promoting activities away from the workplace. If you are a Millennial, then you might understand why a  study from Docebo found that 95% of millennials note a healthy work-life balance as a top priority when searching for a new job – a percentage that HR simply cannot ignore. Sadly, not every millennial gets to find this balance. This is where we can help you! (click here)
  • Gen Z Just when you thought you figured out Millennials, Generation Z is now entering the workforce. A whopping 72.8 million individuals are included in this group born between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s. For Generation Z, safety means they are looking for stability and that opportunities to advance within a company are based on performance. They want to know what the rules are, and that they are fair. They’re okay with taking risks to stretch and grow. They think: Is it safe to take risks at your company? They need an environment where they can be independent, competitive and even territorial. 35% of Gen-Zers would rather share socks than office space. Gen-Zers are very entrepreneurial and want to ‘own’ their projects and areas in the organization! And this is where we come in…Whether it’s investing in learning a new skill, developing yourself personally or professionally, creating your own business, tapping into your creativity, you need to give it to yourself first, before you can give to others – and that is where we come in!  
  • GENX Generation X is a generation of professionals who are shaping the current workforce. Many Gen Xers share the same values and characteristics in the workplace. Learning more about Generation X and how they function can help you better work with them. Most Gen Xers have at least 20 years of work experience and are ready to accept the challenge of leadership as baby boomers begin to retire. Their upbringing and values can shape the way they work and how they lead others. Generation X values work-life balance. They still usually work hard and take pride in their work, but prefer to create a clear separation between their workplaces and personal lives. For this reason, Gen Xers value flexibility in their work to pursue personal interests as needed. 

If you find yourself in this description, we particularly recommend our “Balance & Ground” program that will assist you in becoming conscious, strong and emotionally balanced to build resilience in stressful times to build the life you want. Click here! 


Meet the needs of the new workforce  


If you’re struggling to inspire the millennials and Gen Z employees in your workplace, we can help! Learn how to fight for highly skilled employees and to have a working strategy for keeping the pipeline full of talented people! If you’re a business looking for guidance regarding how to navigate the ABCs of the new generation of employees, we have the right tools to help you! Click here!


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