Different Generations in the Workplace | 2023 Study

Nina Paczka
by Nina Paczka   Career Advice Contributor 
Published On : January 03, 2023 

With an intern to a retiree working side by side, today’s workforce is more age-diverse than ever.

At one end, an aging population and an increase in the legal retirement age, and at the other, people taking their first steps on their career paths.

Where does it take us? To a growing number of age-diverse workplaces and rising awareness of the issue in question.

In light of the rapid changes in the labor market, reexamination of this important topic is necessary.

At LiveCareer, we surveyed over 1,000 employees to investigate:

  • General attitudes toward the multigenerational workplace.
  • Benefits and challenges of different generations working together.
  • What skills and work habits each generation brings to the table.
  • If age matters in the workplace.

Interested? Keep on reading to find out what the research revealed. First, let’s briefly review different generations based on several earlier studies.

Silent Generation [born 1928–1945]

The Silent Generation, also called the Traditionalists, grew up far before the dawn of modern technology. They value hard work, a slower pace, and playing by rules.

People representing the Silent Generation usually make conservative, loyal, and highly disciplined workers. Still, due to an advanced age, only a handful of the Silent Generation is present in today’s workforce.

Baby boomers [born 1946–1964]

Baby boomers look primarily for job security. They appreciate a more formalized and structured environment than younger generations. Boomers also lack familiarity with new technologies due to no digital communication growing up. Therefore, they may prefer face-to-face meetings to online ones. It is not a rule, though.

Boomers appreciate the chance to share their expertise, given they are a great source of knowledge about their industry. They’re hardworking and want to be recognized for their skills.  Managers should encourage them to mentor younger employees.

What is worth mentioning is that many baby boomers appreciate reduced schedules, shifts, and the option to work from home. Those benefits would encourage them to stay in their current job longer. Health care and retirement benefits are also highly desired.

Gen X [born 1965–1980]

Gen Xers prefer an environment that focuses on independence. They appreciate having the flexibility to manage their workload. Greater physical and psychological space also matters to them.

For generation X workers, their families are often a reference point. Therefore, they evaluate healthcare coverage, flexible workforce arrangements, on-site daycare and other perks facilitating a good work-life balance. When it comes to rewards, Gen Xers seem to prefer monetary ones.

Millennials [born 1981–1996]

Millennials straddle the line between the way things were and how they are now. This hyper-connected, tech-savvy generation challenged employers’ demands of relentless commutes, work-life balance standards, and profit-oriented mentality. They are modern-age communicators with entrepreneurial spirits.

Millennials appreciate remote work and flexible schedules. They want to be assessed not for their office hours but for their results. What’s more, Millennials need to feel that their work is important and has a deeper meaning.

Gen Z [born 1997–2012]

Generation Z workers place a great emphasis on purpose-driven work and a good work-life balance. They value growth and promotion opportunities. Gen Zers work for a higher cause as they see making the world a better place as their top long-term career goal.

Take a look at the research findings of Zety.com’s 2021 study:

  • 95% of Gen Zers want to do a meaningful job that goes beyond making ends meet. In fact, 71% of Gen Z workers would even cut their pay to do meaningful work.
  • When it comes to favorite job perks, Gen Zers pick flexible schedules (59%) and remote work (53%).
  • The key reasons for which Gen Z workers quit are a clash of values between them and an employer (72%), poor work-life balance (50%), and a toxic work environment (47%).
  • 43% of Gen Z employees believe that making the world a better place is their long-term career goal.

Countless studies claim both Millennials and Gen Zers are the most job-hopping generations ever. Yet, they are ready to work in one place for two years or more as long as employers provide them with work-life balance, a sense of job meaningfulness, and growth opportunities.

Time to go through our study now.

Are different generations in the workplace a source of conflict, or rather a way to maximize the potential of people of different ages? Let’s see.

Views on generation diversity in the workplace

An infographic presenting views on generation diversity in the workplace

Just a quick note: we didn’t silence the Silent Generation; nobody who could represent this age group took the survey.

We started by asking the respondents how they generally perceived generation diversity in the workplace. Let’s have a look at their answers:

  • Almost 9 in 10 respondents (89%) considered generation diversity in the workplace as something positive. What’s more, 87% of survey takers viewed it as a chance for different generations to learn from each other.
  • At the same time, 78% of surveyed employees believed a multigenerational workplace could lead to conflict.
  • Gen Zers (91%) were more optimistic about the multigenerational workplace than baby boomers (81%). There was a similar trend among respondents without a college degree (81%) and MA degree holders (92%).

The survey takers were also asked: “If you were an employer, would you hire people representing different generations?”.

  • The study revealed that as many as 88% of the surveyed declared they would hire people from different generations.
  • There was a disparity between the positive answers given by respondents with no college degree (66%) and MA degree holders (90%), as well as Gen Xers (91%) and baby boomers (77%).

Is age an issue of great importance, or is it just a number? Dig deeper to uncloak the mystery.

Is age just a number?

An infographic about the role of age in the workplace

Attaching labels. Calling names. Making assumptions based on nothing but age.

Let’s face it. Outdated stereotypes still affect the perception of age in the workplace.

Statements such as “he’s too old to learn a new computer program” or “she’s too young to lead a team” diminish the value and qualifications of the people involved. An employee’s knowledge and experience increase with age. And a young person with strong skills and talent should not be held back because of his or her age.

– Lori A. Trawinski, Ph.D., AARP Public Policy Institute

Using our participants as an example, let’s examine whether age affects the work environment:

  • 88% of respondents agreed that age plays an important role in employee competence. 9 in 10 Gen Xers supported this view, while 83% of baby boomers seemed less convinced.
  • Over 8 in 10 (81%) survey takers agreed that supervisors and managers should be respected because of their job title, regardless of their competency and leadership skills. Interestingly, a comparison of different demographic groups revealed a disparity in answers given by respondents with no college degree (74%) and MA degree holders (87%) who considerably supported this opinion.

Asked about age preference regarding coworkers, respondents answered as follows:

  • I prefer to work with people (around) my age. — 40%
  • I prefer to work with people younger than me. — 36%
  • I prefer to work with people older than me. — 10%
  • The age of the coworkers doesn’t matter to me. — 14%

Surprisingly enough, 8 in 10 (81%) survey takers found it hard to have someone younger than them as their manager/supervisor.

What conclusions can we draw then? Well, our respondents seemed a bit inconsistent in their views. Yet, it looks like age is not only a personal detail but also affects people’s opinions on others’ ability to perform.

Multigenerational skill ranking

An infographic presenting multigenerational skill ranking

No false modesty. It’s time for honest self-evaluation. The survey included a section in which respondents ranked their skills.

Let’s see how members of each generation assessed themselves and what skills they rated highest:

  • Gen Zersgeneral computer literacy (#1), public speaking, communication, leadership, coding and problem-solving skills.
  • Millennialscommunication (#1), problem-solving skills, general computer literacy and social media skills [dead heat], analytical thinking and leadership skills.
  • Gen Xersproblem-solving (#1), communication, general computer literacy, logical thinking and leadership skills.
  • Baby Boomerslogical thinking (#1), leadership, public speaking, problem-solving and communication skills.

There is a tendency for older generations to rate themselves lower in terms of their skills than younger generations. It may result from our culture promoting confidence, empowerment, and self-belief.

Values & expectations toward the workplace

An infographic about each generation's values & expectations toward the workplace

We also wanted to examine what different generations value in professional life and what they expect from the workplace. Research findings revealed the following:

  • Job prestige is valued the most by respondents representing all generations (Gen Zers—53%, Millennials—58%, Gen Xers—64%, baby boomers—59%).
  • As the second most important aspect of work, Gen Zers (44%) and baby boomers (46%) considered job security, while for Gen Xers (42%) and Millennials (46%), it was the “chances for growth.”
  • Asked, “Which of the benefits do you personally consider the best?” Gen Zers (39%) chose health insurance, while Millennials (38%), Gen Xers (33%), and baby boomers (32%) picked the flexible working benefit.

Dilemmas all generations share

An infographic about work-life dilemmas all generations share

No matter how different generations may be, there are some dilemmas we all share.

We asked respondents to choose what is more important to them. Here are the results:

  • Doing meaningful work—80% vs. Earning a lot of money—20%
  • Exciting tasks—60% vs. Stable employment—40%
  • Job satisfaction—86% vs. Job prestige—14%
  • Family—78% vs. Career—22%

Here are a few other interesting research findings:

  • More than 1 in 3 (32%) Millennials valued career higher than family.
  • Nearly a half (48%) of Gen Xers preferred stable employment to doing exciting tasks.

Another question regarded work-life balance. More than 9 in 10 (92%) survey takers declared that work-life balance was important to them.

The respondents were also asked: “How often do you work on vacation? This includes any work-related task, such as checking and answering emails.” They answered as follows:

  • Never—8%
  • Sometimes—68%
  • Often—14%
  • Always—10%

There were no disparities between answers given by survey takers representing different generations.

Attitudes toward teamwork & remote work

An infographic about attitudes toward teamwork & remote work

To let us examine attitudes toward teamwork and remote work, the respondents answered a series of questions. The study findings to note:

  • Almost 9 in 10 (87%) respondents feel good working in a team. What’s more, as many as 88% like sharing their knowledge with colleagues.
  • 60% of the surveyed prefer teamwork, while 33% chose individual work, and 7% don’t mind both.
  • Socializing with colleagues after work is a great idea for 89% of respondents.
  • Almost 8 in 10 (79%) survey takers feel positive about remote work. Additionally, for 40% of respondents, it is a preferred form of work. At the same time, 50% like working on-site more, and for 10%, it makes no difference if they work remotely or on-site.

Asked about their preferred method of communicating with colleagues at work, the surveyed answered:

  • In-person—50%
  • Email—24%
  • Phone—21%
  • Zoom (or other video conferencing tools)—4%
  • Slack (or other messaging apps)—1%

Surprisingly, there are no noticeable disparities in answers to mention.

As the times change, so do the people. Still, it seems clear that our ability to adapt is impressive.

The floor is yours

Our helpful participants were asked: “Do you have any experience working in a multigenerational environment?” and “How do you feel about members of different generations working together?”.

Most people shared positive experiences gained from working in an intergenerational environment. Here’s what they told us in their own words:

“I like working with people from different generations. I have had positive experiences with people from different generations, offering different insights into problems that arise at work. I haven’t had any negative experiences.”

“I feel very positive about working with people of other generations. They provide a different perspective, and I really enjoy the additional feedback.”

“I feel that my co-workers from every generation have some unique knowledge to offer.”

“I have had wonderful times working with people of different ages and backgrounds because it really brings something new to the table every day and keeps work interesting.”

“I feel it is good because of the different experience levels, teaching methods, and perspectives.”

“I think it’s a good thing. Generations can learn from each other, and it creates an out-of-the-box problem-solving group.”

But, there’s also the other side of it:

“It seems as if the younger generation wants to come in with no experience and be the manager right away. They are lazy and do just the bare minimum or nothing at all, for they know someone else will pick up the slack to get the project done.”

“Younger folks want promotions and recognition far sooner than they really deserve.”

“The younger always chat and do some irritating things like having sex in the workplace.”

“The truth is that I am a tolerant and easy-going person. Sometimes, working with older people can be tedious, but I know how to handle it, and I learn a lot. With younger people, I find it more difficult because they tend to be more irresponsible.”

“I have experience working with younger and older people. The only negative experience I have in working with someone younger was an assistant manager at 21 and didn’t actually do any work, just bossed everyone around.”

Okay. It seems that younger generations and good reputation are not a match.

Aren’t they indeed? Some would disagree:

“Working with young people brings a lot of energy to the table. They have fresh ideas.”

“People of a different generation give you a different perspective on things. This can be very positive if you are getting older and at your job for a long time.”

And how about older generations? Let’s see:

“I feel great about different generations working together. I’ve had great experiences working with older people, especially in my 20s, at Marshall’s. I worked with all sorts of people since that store had almost 80 employees. My favorites were the older ones because they took their job seriously and seemed like leaders to me.”

“Old generation people have less knowledge but more experience. They knew how to rectify a problem easily. So I like to work with old generation people.”

“I think it is positive. We could use that wisdom and learn from our elders.”

“The crew I manage is around my age to older, and we all get along fairly well for the most part. Older workers are generally more reliable than younger ones.”

“The older generations have seen a lot – i.e., been there, done that. They can teach the young workers a lot of tricks. If the older workers have been at the same employer for a while, that can show stability. In my experience, information flow is mostly from older to younger employees.”

Fair enough. Older workers are the salt of the Earth. Still, no generation is perfect.

One of the respondents, who works in the education industry, shared their worries about tasks they were often given:

“In my industry, I’m often the youngest person on a team by several decades. It’s mostly fine, but it can be annoying when my role ends up becoming the go-to “computer person.” It means that I don’t get a fair share of other responsibilities (e.g., I spend the morning fixing the printers instead of working on a project I’ve yet to experience), and I feel like I’m not growing in my career as a result.”

Some respondents took a balanced approach to older and younger generations. Both have strengths and weaknesses. But no one is better than the other.

The key to success is an open approach to mutual learning, willingness to cooperate, and accepting different age groups the way they are.

“Younger generations are energetic team players who welcome new challenges but also tend to lack self-discipline and work ethics, requiring lots of supervision and communications. Older generations tend to have more experience in their work, with a panoramic view of the whole operations, which is definitely great mentoring material. Still, they tend to have a high ego and refuse feedback or suggestions.”

“I feel strongly that it is important to equal out the age generations in the workplace. There are multiple things that the newer generation can learn from the older generation. Also, the older generation can benefit from the newer generation as far as new outlooks on things and the ability to teach someone else their skill sets. I am about the median age at my workplace, and I have seen different aspects of the willingness from both older and younger generations to work fully together without animosity.”

There is also a group of survey takers who declared that work well done was all that mattered. Not the employees’ age.

“Whatever the generations may the people be from, the most important thing in the office is teamwork. Everyone should understand each other to give a good result.”

“It does not matter to me one bit. I go to work with a goal in mind; whoever helps me achieve that goal is what matters. I think that you are able to learn from people of all ages, and thus both younger and older people are valuable to me at work.”

“It is what it is. You have to work with everyone and shouldn’t have to worry about what kind of person they are.”

Benefits of generational differences in the workplace

The beauty and actual value of generation diversity in the workplace lie in the fact that all age groups bring different skills to the table.

Everybody wins. And the prizes are precious. Let’s have a look.

  • Knowledge-sharing. A diverse knowledge base is a workplace treasure chest. In an intergenerational team, employees of different ages can learn from each other. For example, Millennials and Gen Zers may help baby boomers adapt to new technologies. At the same time, older generations have special interpersonal skills, which younger people may lack. Age diversity goes hand in hand with skill diversity. And thanks to knowledge-sharing, people grow.
  • Performance and productivity boost. It’s proven that age diversity has a positive influence on a group involved in complex decision-making tasks. Also, the productivity of both older and younger employees is higher in companies with mixed-age work teams. You don’t argue with science, right?
  • Enhanced problem-solving. Different generations come with different perspectives. Also, a wide array of available life experiences makes a great source of creative solutions.
  • A diversified workforce is an open-minded workforce. No matter whether it comes to age, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. The broader range of people you work with, the more sensitive you become to differences between them. It broadens not only your horizons but also your potential customer base’s.
  • Friendly work environment, more understanding employees. Working side by side with people from different generations is an eye-opening experience. It proves that negative age stereotypes are wrong, and all they do is harm. The more you see, the wiser you become.

Diversity is a workplace blessing. Yet, to ensure that everyone can reach their potential, the crucial thing is to understand the characteristics and expectations of each generation.

Read on to get some practical tips on how to act in a multigenerational work environment:

Multigenerational workplace—best practices

Multigenerational workplace practices presented below are simple, yet effective. Let’s give them a closer look:

  • Avoid making age-based assumptions and stereotyping. They do nothing but harm. And lead nowhere near the company’s success.
  • Be respectful, flexible, and understanding.
  • Adopt varying communication styles.
  • Recognize one another’s strengths.
  • Inspire each other to grow. Everyone has something to teach and something to learn.

If you are an employer, here are some more tips and tricks for you:

  • Tailor your recruiting strategies to a multigenerational workforce.
  • Promote inclusive work culture and encourage respect.
  • Stay attentive to your employees’ needs.
  • Customize your approach to every employee.
  • Conduct generational training.
  • Enhance technology.
  • Flatten hierarchy.
  • Organize team-building activities and events.

Inclusion and diversity in the workplace go beyond moral imperatives. These days, it is one of the trademarks of forward-thinking businesses. We can learn from each other and make all the differences a great source of information about people and the wide world.

Key takeaways

A few words before you go.

Let’s summarize what the research revealed. Here’s a recap of our findings:

  • Almost 9 in 10 respondents (89%) considered generation diversity in the workplace something positive.
  • The benefits of generational differences in the workplace include knowledge-sharing, performance and productivity boost, enhanced problem-solving, a friendly work environment, and more empathetic employees.
  • According to more than 8 in 10 (81%) survey takers, supervisors and managers should be respected because of their job title, regardless of their competency and whether they manage people well.
  • 4 in 10 respondents claimed they preferred to work with people (around) their age. At the same time, 81% of participants found it hard to have someone younger than them as a manager or supervisor.
  • Assessing their greatest strengths, the generations chose as follows: baby boomers—logical thinking, Gen Xers—problem-solving skills, Millennials—communication skills, and Gen Zers—general computer literacy.
  • Older generations tend to rate their skills lower than the younger generations do. It may result from our culture promoting confidence, empowerment, and self-belief.
  • Job prestige was valued the most by respondents representing all generations.
  • More than 1 in 3 (32%) Millennials valued career higher than family.
  • Nearly a half (48%) of Gen Xers preferred stable employment to doing exciting tasks.
  • For almost 9 in 10 (86%) respondents, job satisfaction was more important than job prestige. At the same time, only 20% of survey takers valued earning a lot of money more than doing meaningful work.

Last but not least—

At work, age is just a number.

Not a credential. Not a competency. Not a reason for making anyone feel excluded.

“By removing the lens of age as a way to view existing or potential employees, you can shift the focus to their abilities, skills, experience and knowledge, where it belongs. You will also expand the talent recruitment pool, which ultimately benefits the organization.

There is no denying that differences exist in the experiences, expectations, styles, and perspectives of people from different generations. Although these differences can sometimes be a source of conflict in a workplace, these same differences can also become a source of strength and innovation when addressed and managed effectively.”

– Lori A. Trawinski, Ph.D., AARP Public Policy Institute


The above-presented findings were obtained by surveying 1063 American respondents online via a bespoke polling tool. They were asked questions about their attitudes toward workplace generation diversity. These included yes/no questions, scale-based questions relating to levels of agreement with a statement, questions that permitted the selection of multiple options from a list of potential answers, and a question that allowed open responses. All respondents included in the study passed an attention-check question.


The data presented relies on self-reports from a randomized group of respondents. Each person who took our survey read and responded to each question without any research administration or interference. There are many potential issues with self-reported data like selective memory, exaggeration, attribution, or telescoping. Some questions and responses have been rephrased or condensed for clarity and ease of understanding for readers.

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Want to share the findings of our research? Go ahead. Feel free to use our images and information wherever you wish. Just link back to this page, please—it will let other readers get deeper into the topic. Additionally, remember to use this content exclusively for non-commercial purposes.


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About the Author

Career Advice Contributor

Nina Paczka Career Advice Contributor

Nina Pączka is a career advisor and job search expert. Her professional advice, insight, and guidance help people find a satisfying job and pursue a career. Nina’s mission is to support job seekers in their path leading to finding a perfect job.


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