A common theme in my work relates to the complexities of leading an inter-generational workforce. We use different terms to describe these collections of unique mindsets and values – the younger generation, Gen Y, Gen X and Boomers to name a few. However, sometimes we sling around these terms without fully understanding who they really apply to. Are Gen Y and Millennials synonyms? What do we call those born before Baby Boomers?
A recent article in The Atlantic revealed that much of the confusion about generations is merited because there aren’t definitive terms. Since generations are simply artificial monikers that we use to describe a similar group of people, there is no legal or official version of what years these so-called generations span (with the exception of Baby Boomers – they are the only official generational category used by the US Census Bureau – source: Bump). In fact, most of the definitions we use find their origins in popular media.
However, I have co-created the following chart as a means to provide some common language around this issue. So here are seven generations and their approximate time spans.
While a lot of talk is still focused on Gen Y and Gen Z, I am personally very interested in the generation which will follow them. “Futurist, demographer, and TEDx speaker Mark McCrindle is leading the campaign to call anyone born after 2010 a part of Generation Alpha. According to him, 2.5 million Alphas are born around the globe every week” (Strebenz). Everyone born since 2010 falls into the Alpha category (as will anyone born until 2030).
Effective organizations learn to harness the collective strengths of all the generations they have in their workforce! Contact me if you would like to discuss how to lead an increasingly inter-generational workforce!
In an upcoming post, I will discuss more details about how different generations impact our workplace. Subscribe to my blog to stay in the loop!
Jeff Suderman is a futurist, professor, consultant and pracademic who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational Future-Readiness (and he loves great customer service!). He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bump, Philip (March 25, 2014). Here Is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to Facts. The Atlantic on-line.
McCrindle, Mark (March 22, 2016). Gen Z & Gen Alpha Infographic. The McCrindle Blog on-line.
Strebenz, Christina (Dec. 5, 2015). Here’s who comes after Generation Z — and they’ll be the most transformative age group ever. Business Insider on-line.