World of work through multigenerational lens

The concept of multigenerational perspective related to labour market has long been known. Although the traditional division of generations might be not valid for all national and cultural contexts, it is nevertheless useful to become familiar with this insight. Indeed, it can tell us much about how workers of different generations approach important aspects of collaboration. These include relation to work values, organisations culture, work styles, leaderships styles, relationships with authorities and many more. This will become even more important with further population ageing and postponement of retirement age in many European counties. According to EUROSTAT the number of elderly people will increase significantly in the coming decades. The projections show that by 2100 31.3% of the EU’s population will be aged 65 years or over.

Generations at a glance

There are different concepts of generations, however the most common used typology is the following one:

  • Traditionalists (born 1928 to 1945)
  • Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964)
  • Generation X (born 1965 to 1980)
  • Generation Y or Millennials (born 1981 to 1996)
  • Generation Z (born 1997 to 2012)
  • Generation Alpha (born in the early 2010s to mid-2020s)

Each of these generations was born in a different period, shaped by different historical, cultural and technological phenomena. This forms an important backdrop against which each generation grew up. However, it is important to avoid stereotypes and it goes without saying that any typology should be taken with a grain of salt. However, a multigenerational perspective can also benefit us in many ways. Above all, in better understanding how to create synergies among co-workers of different ages and how to maximise the potential of multigenerational cooperation. Always, of course, taking into account the individuality of each person.

Is age an important impact factor in workplace behaviour?

Although the above might suggest that age is a significant factor in determining differences between workers, the results of a number of studies show that this is not the case. Let’s have a look at two studies which show that generational differences do not create fundamental differences in worker behaviour. 

In 2014, a team of American university professors conducted a study which used a sample of more than 8,000 workers from two organisations. They tested thy hypothesis that Baby Boomers would be less willing to travel for work, would be more compliant with rules and regulations compared to Generation X and Millennials, and Generation X would be less willing to stay overtime. The results showed that the differences between respondents of different generations were negligible and its effect was not as significant as expected.

Another meta-analysis goes back to 2012. A team of researchers compared the results of 20 studies that compared the behaviour of four generations (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials) on a sample of almost 20,000 respondents. The meta-analysis of generational differences used three work-related criteria: job satisfaction, organisational commitment and intent to turnover. The results showed that the relationship between generational perspective and work-related outcomes are moderate to small, essentially zero in many cases.

So how can different generations enrich each other?

The above-mentioned studies showed that many aspects of workplace behaviour are not so different with respect to age. However, some other research show that differences are evident in other aspects. For example, in the area of learning and preferences in how we take in and process new information.

Interesting insights are brought by a Workplace Learning Report compiled by LinkedIn in 2021 based on inputs from more than 5,000 L&D professionals, learners and managers from 27 countries globally. The results show that the driving force behind learning new skills is Generation Z. On the other hand, Generation Y is more aware of the fact that new skills are crucial when shifting to a different role. It is not quite surprising that different generations prefer different forms of education. While Gen Z primarily seeks online form, the preference for traditional face-to-face education increases with age. A major breakthrough, however, was the pandemic that brought the form of online education to the forefront and in many cases, it was the only possible form of continuing education.

Despite all the differences, the key is to embrace and leverage multi-generational diversity for better team collaboration. It is important to remember that age is not an issue. It is always necessary to look for how I can adapt collaboration to the peculiarities and preferences that come with age. Whether it concerns the communication flows used, adaptation and development programs or motivational tools.


EUROSTAT. Population structure and ageing. February 2022. Available at:

BECTON JOHN BRET at all. Generational differences in workplace behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 2014, 44, pp 175-189. Available at:

COSTANZA DAVID P. et al. Generational Differences in Work-Related Attitudes: A Meta-analysis. J Bus Psychol 27, 375–394 (2012). Available at:

LinkedIn Learning: Workplace Learning Report 2021. Skill Building in the New World of Work. Available at:

Author: Zdenka Havrlikova, AVITEUM, Prague / Czech Republic

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