A Stunning Fact 

According to this February 2023 article from the Society of Human Resource Management, (SHRM), five generations are represented in today’s workforce. They are: 

  • Traditionalists (or Silent Generation) —born from 1925 to 1945
  • Baby Boomers—born from 1946 to 1964
  • Generation X—born from 1965 to 1980
  • Millennials—born from 1981 to 2000
  • Generation Z—born from 2001 to 2020

How can this be? How can so many generations be engaged in the workplace? For one thing, people today tend to live longer, and more of them are working longer, too – well beyond traditional retirement age. This can be by choice, financial necessity, or some reason in between. But one fact stands firm: intergenerational differences are a legitimate form of workforce diversity. And like all diverse groups, people from different generations sometimes hold exaggerated, “all or nothing” beliefs about their younger or older counterparts, and organizational leadership, being human too, sometimes falls into the same trap. 

Stirring the Misconception Pot has Serious Consequences and Makes for Bad “Journalism” 

You’ve probably seen click-bait articles like these before: Twenty Misconceptions Boomers Still Think are True, or Do Millennials Really Deserve Trophies Just for Showing Up? This LinkedIn blog post examines some of these broad-brush misconceptions, including the notion that older workers are less likely to learn new skills, millennials are job-hoppers, older workers have a diminished sense of purpose, and Gen Xers aren’t ready for leadership. As with any myth, too many exceptions to these “rules” are overlooked, and the baby boomer (or the millennial, traditionalist, Gen-X, or  Gen Z person) can get thrown out with the bathwater. 

Now consider this: A grim reality of the misconception that Gen Xers aren’t ready for leadership, is that it sets up younger people for age discrimination. So, while the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects persons aged 40 and up, some states also protect younger workers. When interviewers perceive that a younger job candidate lacks experience, they should ask themselves, “Is this person lacking required experience, or is that my skewed perception?”

Truer Words were Never Spoken  

But then there’s this: Despite the misconception that it’s costlier to employ older workers, many of them will tell you that because of higher earnings earlier in their careers, they now have flexibility where salary is concerned. They might also say that meaningful work or a more flexible schedule means more to them than salary. Do you assume that older workers cost more to insure? Generally speaking, at age 65, people can choose between an employer’s healthcare plan and Medicare. And many older workers have fewer dependents, which can save on healthcare costs. 

While some people might believe misconceptions about others from different generations, this piece from Harvard Business Review suggests there is little real conflict between the generations. In fact, the article says, “So what might really matter at work are not actual differences between generations but people’s beliefs that these differences exist. These beliefs can get in the way of how people collaborate with their colleagues, and they have troubling implications for how people are managed and trained.”

That doesn’t mean that a multi-generational workplace lives happily ever after once everybody’s myths are dispelled. Without continuous education – something Medix prides itself on – people can fall back into outmoded thinking habits. 


At Medix, we use a behavioral assessment tool called MyPrint to help teammates work together more effectively. MyPrint analyzes the soft skills of both individuals and teams, factoring in personality traits, motivators, and behavioral styles. With a foundation built on a knowledge of these elements, Medix can coach individuals, partners, and teams on how they can minimize personal and relational pain points while maximizing collaboration.

Here are examples of how people’s assumptions can get in the way of healthy interactions with teammates: An older teammate (not at Medix) chastises a younger teammate for “playing” on her phone, only to learn that the younger teammate was texting the nonprofit where she volunteered to check her schedule for that afternoon. Or consider the millennial account manager who assumes the baby boomer he is training to use new software will struggle to catch on, when in fact, the boomer is a tech enthusiast who codes in her spare time. 

Grant Swanson is our MyPrint specialist at Medix. He says that a data-backed understanding of generational differences is helpful for motivating and engaging teammates from each generation. “We have and will continue to use those findings to improve as an employer from a foundational and policy level. That said, when it comes to engaging each teammate as the unique individual they are, we need the MyPrint tool because it provides a far more accurate picture of a teammate’s strengths, desires, etc., than a generational study ever could. MyPrint transcends generational differences . . . I am excited about leveraging MyPrint to make our teams more effective, regardless of what generations teammates are a part of.”

When You Know Better, Do Better

Companies benefit when all the working generations are present and accounted for because each lends its own perspectives to all areas of creativity, including problem-solving, product innovation, and marketing. By definition, workforce generational diversity requires an assortment of ages contributing in the workplace and opens the door to better customer service and a wider range of business prospects. 

We know that diversity makes organizations stronger; it’s both a simple and a complex fact. When the teammates and the leadership of organizations reflect the makeup of the communities they serve, they better meet the needs of all the groups that help keep them in business, and they contribute diversity of thought because people approach problems and solutions differently. Combining these facets of diversity contributes to organizations’ success. Leaving out key demographics is bad for people and bad for organizations. And as it goes with all facets of company health, the more diverse your teammates and leadership, and the more mindful you are of customer diversity, the stronger your company’s bottom line will be.