In the 1960s, “the generation gap” became shorthand for the differences between those born during the baby boom and their parents who had lived through the Great Depression and World War II. Then, the puzzling differences between young and old gave a new generation of Americans the label “X.” Now, “Boomers” and “Gen Xers” are scratching their heads at the newcomers, the “Millennials.” These young people were born after 1980, and are posing challenges to and suggesting opportunities for their employers now that they are entering the workforce.
What makes Millennials tick and how to integrate them into the workplace has been intensively researched. One landmark study is Generations at Work, by Ron Zemke, Claire Raines, and Bob Filipczak (McGraw-Hill, 1999). By examining the influences and characteristics of workers of all ages, these researchers seek strategies for improving communications and management techniques.