Nowadays we are all used to hearing the terms “Millennials”, “Gen Z” and Baby Boomers” but what connotations do those labels have in the world of work and are the tensions we read about in the media fictional? The latest research by Felix Danbold and his co-authors featured in the Financial Times explores just that.
The article discussed the perceptions associated with the different generational labels and if these clichés are actually contributing to generational hostility at work. Felix and his co-authors’ paper shows that in the US it is in fact feeding into these hostilities. The showed that the biggest friction comes from Boomers and Millennials whereby the two groups are threatened by one and other, but for differing reasons.
Baby Boomers fear that Millennials’ values, habits, and worldviews are threatening the traditional values Baby Boomers hold dear, whilst Millennials feel that Baby Boomer’s delayed transition of power hampers their life prospects.
Felix and his co-authors found that the animosity between the two groups did decrease when they were reminded that each group a) would one day or b) has been the same age as the other. Whilst this shows a positive change in attitude the paper highlighted the danger in these stereotypical beliefs about a specific group of people. When people buy into these conceptions it has real consequences and impacts workplace interactions negatively.