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Generations in America by the numbers (Part one of a seven-part series)

By Michelle Post

I remember the moment clearly, as if it happened yesterday, but it was 15 years ago.  I was sitting in professional development training with members of my team, and we were learning about the different generations in the workplace.  As the instructor began to detail each generation and their characteristics, one of my teammates and I looked at each other and said, “Oh, now I understand you!”  That is when my love for learning about the generations in the workplace began.

America currently has six living generations: (1) Greatest Generation (GI Generation), born  1924 or earlier; (2) Silent Generation, born between 1925 – 1945; (3) Baby Boomers, born between 1946 – 1964; (4) Generation-X, born between 1964 – 1980; (5) Generation-Y (Millennials), born between 1981 – 1997; and (6) Generation-Z (Homelanders), born between 1998 – present.  It is important to note there are several generational studies, and the dates do differ slightly by a few years in each study.

An individual is not defined by the labels he or she has been given; however, the labels do help provide insight into the individual.  For example, I am known as a DINK, (Double Income No Kids).  Not one of my favorite labels, but it does provide facts about me.  Moreover, so does understanding the different generational labels.  It is not the differences that separate the generations; instead, it is those differences that create unique opportunities for learning and growth.

This series will provide a short exposé on each of the generations and will specifically look at the following five characteristics of each generation (1) core values; (2) family; (3) money; (4) technology; and (5) work.  The series will also provide an exclusive look at the five generations that are in the workplace (Baby Boomers to Generation-Z) and, hopefully, provide some insights on how to work with each other.

“Every generation inherits a world it never made; and, as it does so, it automatically becomes the trustee of that world for those who come after.  In due course, each generation makes its own accounting to its children.”  

~ Robert Kennedy



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