In the last century, there have been four equally unique generations in the United States.
These generations are known as the Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. Traditionalists were born from 1900-1945, Baby Boomers from 1946-1964, Generation X from 1965-1980, and Millennials from 1981-2000. Each of these generations have many aspects that make them all distinct: influences, values, attributes, family lifestyle, view on education, work ethic, and motivation. While the four most recent generations are results of the individual aspects of which they are comprised of, they have each been distinct. Introduce with the idea of influencers playing a major role in the shaping of the generations.
Traditionalists were heavily influenced by the effects of the Great Depression, New Deal, World War II, beginning of the Cold War, and the rise of corporations. Baby Boomers were influenced by the Civil Rights Movement, the majority of the Cold War, and the Space Race. As children, the “American Dream” was told as a promise to be fulfilled if pursued, resulting in many being covetous, materialistic, and overly ambitious. Generation X was influenced by turbulent government scandals, the rise of dual income families, the majority of children being left unsupervised for extended periods of time, the Oil Crisis of 1973, a large increase of working mothers, and an drastic increase in the number of divorces which resulted in the rise of single parents. They were heavily influenced by having to become self-sufficient earlier than previous generations and reaching maturity in a time where the United States was beginning to decline as a world leader. Millennials were influenced by an expanding amount of digital media, a world focused on investing in children, increasingly frequent terrorist attacks at home and around the world, typically growing up with divorced parents, constant stimulation when young, and being extremely sheltered due to parents trying to protect their children from the ever increasing dangers in the outside world. Many Millennials can be defined as self-righteous as they work to be a generation with a positive mark in history by fixing the “wrongs” done by past generations in the current world.
The core values of each generation are results of their influences, and are a defining characteristic of the generations. Traditionalists valued discipline, respecting and not questioning authority, dedication, conformity, loyalty, patriotism, and trusting the government. Over everything else, Traditionalists valued family and community. Baby Boomers valued optimism, youth, growth, making a positive impact, ending war, limiting government, questioning authority, being a successful person, and treating every person as an equal. Generation X values diversity, education, informality, disorganization, enjoying oneself, independence, and their overall cynicism.
Generation X is also known to seek balance of work and outside life and highly value thinking with a mindset to do something for the greater good. Millennials valued high tolerance for others, good morals, technological advancements, living in the moment, nihilistic optimism, knowing useful life skills, being social, and diversity. Many Millennials were known to have overvalued buying on credit, living in the moment, and having a fun experiences with others. Out of everything they value, Millennials strive to be unique. Another defining trait which distinguishes each generation from the other are the general attributes of the generation.
Traditionalists are known to be loyal, respectful, ethical, efficient, conservative, and competent individuals. An overall respect for rules and authority drive the dedication of this generation for which it is infamous for. Traditionalists have adapted to technology, but do not have a high reliance on it. Baby Boomers are defined by their ambition, competition, idealism, optimism, political correctness, high education, and consumerism. A major attribute of this generation is its overall negative attitude toward government. Baby Boomers are more knowledgeable than the previous generation in regards to technology, but do not rely on it heavily. Generation X is distinct in it’s ethics, adaptability, confidence, drive, responsibility, and willingness to work hard.
The most distinct trait of this generation is its desire for independence and self-sufficiency. Generation X workers have become reliant on technology for working, and have ample knowledge to operate the technology. Millennials are easily seen to be aimlessly ambitious, team-oriented, sheltered, well educated, focused on diversity, innovative, and geared for political correctness. However, the easiest characteristic of a Millennial to notice is their knowledge of and high reliance on technology. While it plays a relatively small effect on the shaping of a generation, the family lifestyle is unique to each generation, and helps to tell one generation apart from another. For Traditionalist children, a good education was a goal to be met.
If attained, the resulting knowledge was highly valued in society. Unlike Traditionalists, Baby Boomers viewed a thorough education as a birthright for all. It was expected for somebody to have a good education and to use it well. In Generation X, the value of education declined in the eyes of society. Instead of a necessity, education became a means to an end.
That end being a well-paying career for the children to eventually find themselves in. Continuing this trend, Millennials view education as less than the two generations before it. As the cost for a strong education increases, the return on investment decreases, and the value of – especially higher level – education declines in society. As expected of such diverse generations, they each have unique work ethics. Traditionalists are well known for their dedication, hard work, respect, and putting the needs of the company before the needs of the individual. Baby Boomer workers have a reputation for being driven workaholics who produced quality results.
Generation X is known to focus on smarter and more efficient work, being self reliant, and working well under a well designed structure. Millennial workers are infamous for being ambitious and working on multiple tasks at one time. As work ethic and values of each generation are distinct, it comes naturally for there to be differences in motivation for each generation. Traditionalists are motivated by being respected, trusted, and having a secure livelihood through money as compensation for their hard work.Baby boomers like to be validated, being a necessary part of something, and being a valued worker.
In addition, they are highly motivated by money, as it is a symbol of status in for the generation. Generation X workers are motivated by being left to their own devices, having limited restrictions, some time away from work to take a break, and money as compensation for their work. Millennial workers strive to work with others who are of similar skill to them and having free time during work to socialize. To Millennials, their salary is viewed as just a payment for their fair share of work.
In conclusion, the difference between the four most recent generations are very apparent. Each generation has unique influences, values, attributes, family lifestyles, views on education, work ethics, and motivation. For every generation, there are many changes in every aspect that combine into something truly distinct.