The majority of the American workforce is comprised of three generations: Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X’ers (born 1965-1980), and Millenials (born 1981-2000). We wanted to learn more about the different habits of each generation. In particular, we were curious to see how they spent their time at work. To help us gain a little insight, we egregiously violated numerous federal, state, and local laws by hiring a top-rated spy and espionage firm to place hidden cameras, tape recorders, and various other cool spy thingys throughout our office to track the day-to-day routine of our team members. We selected one team member from each generation to spy on. Here are some of the highlights from the study.

Subject Number 1: Baby Boomer

6:45 am: Subject arrives at office before anyone else. Unlocks office door, disarms alarm, and heads directly to break room to brew coffee. While waiting for coffee to brew, subject flips break room TV back and forth between Fox News, The Weather Channel, and Murder, She Wrote.

7:01 am: Subject settles in at desk. Checks work email. Checks personal AOL email account. Writes out to-do list for the day and begins checking off items.

10:37 am: Subject performs a HotBot search for “gout relief”.

6:15 pm: Subject last person to leave office.

A little background information

Baby Boomers (1946-1964) were born during a period of unprecedented population growth in the United States, hence the term “boom”. This generation, who grew up in a period of social unrest (civil rights, Vietnam, sexual revolution) and spent their youth rebelling against authority, now finds itself holding top positions of organizations across the globe. Characteristics of Baby Boomers include:

  • Tech-enabled
  • Loyal
  • Value individuality
  • Family-focused
  • According to a study by Karen Way Smola Charlotte D. Sutton entitled “Generational Differences: Revisiting Generational Work Values for the New Millennium”, Boomers strengths include “consensus building, mentoring, and effecting change.”

Subject Number 2: Gen X’er

8:00 am: Subject arrives at office. Heads to break room for coffee and flips the TV back and forth between CNN and a Welcome Back Kotter re-run.  

8:15 am: Subject sits down at desk, checks email, opens iTunes and cranks Van Halen’s classic 1984. Subject begins working.

10:04 am: Subject breaks for a quick round of online Sudoku. Looks over shoulders, puts on headphones, and cues up Air Supply’s Now and Forever.

5:00 pm: Subject shuts down computer and leaves for the day.


A little background information

Generation X’ers (1965-1980) also grew up in a world filled with change; however, the climate might be better described as unstable (Cold War, sharp economic fluctuations, etc). This generation, frequently referred to as cautious and pessimistic, is described in Smola and Sutton’s study as preferring individualism versus collectivism. “They use the team to support their individual efforts and relationships, crave mentors, and value a stable family.” Additional descriptors include:

  • Tech-savvy
  • “The Lost Generation”
  • Comfortable with diversity and change
  • The most diverse generation in US history

 “But what about the Millennial?” you may be wondering. Ah, yes. The Millennial. You’ll simply have to tune in next week to see what revelations our study uncovered about the fascinating and peculiar creature that is the Millennial. Also, next week’s installment will offer you some advice on how to manage and accommodate a generationally diverse workforce. So, be sure to check back next week for the exciting conclusion of “Team Member Segmentation in the Workplace.”

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