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Communicating Across Generational Diversity

For the first time in history, our workforce spans five generations- The Silent/Traditional Generation (2%), Baby Boomers (25%), Generation X (33%), Millennials (35%), and Generation Z (5%). Every day, 10,000 Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age as Generation Z is entering the workforce for the first time. By 2028, Gen X will outnumber Baby Boomers however, 65% of Baby Boomers plan to work past retirement age. For Millennials and Gen Zers, most haven’t been in work environments without technology. Millennials tend to avoid phone calls and prefer online messaging platforms, email, and texting. However, Gen X is showing a preference for face-to-face communication (NDMU, 2022).

To effectively support teams with diverse age groups, it’s essential to first recognize our generational differences and biases. How have significant cultural and historical events shaped my generation? How does belonging to a certain generation influence my communication style? How does it affect my leadership approach and decision-making? How have these factors contributed to the organizational culture and my own work experience?

People are not easily categorized; our identities are multifaceted, and our individual identities form a complex whole. These generational characteristics are not meant to be prescriptive or universal. A Baby Boomer might love texting and a Millennial might prefer to meet face-to-face. This resource is offered in the spirit of increased understanding of how a diversity of lived experiences impacts the workplace. Inclusion is the practice of understanding the diversity in the room and allowing that diversity to shape the way the work is done. Once we understand our default behaviors and their potential impact on others, we can foster inclusivity for various approaches—regardless of what generation we are a part of.

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Communicating Across Generational Diversity

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Contact: Cairá Lee Conner-Ware, TREC

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