Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers: The 4 Leading Generations in the Workplace

Learn about the characteristic differences of each generation in the workplace.

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4 generations, 1 workforce. Understand who's who in the workplace.

Here's what you need to know about Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers: The 4 Leading Generations in the Workplace:

  • It’s important to remember that these generations tend to span about 15 years.
  • Regardless of their stereotypes, as workers, everyone's generational diversity presents relatively the same.
  • Each generation experiences challenges in terms of characteristics, concrete demographics, generational differences and the like.

You may have heard of Millennials, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z and wondered, “who’s who?” ⁠— particularly in the workplace. Let’s learn more about these 4 generations.

It can be tough to define each generation in terms of:

  • Characteristics
  • Concrete demographics
  • Generational differences and the like

Even so, you can get a general idea of who belongs to which generation, which we’ll explore below. It could help make managing 4 different generations in the workforce easier.

Who is Generation Z?

You have likely heard of Generation Z before. They’re the generation that comes after Millennials. However, they aren’t the most recent generation. That distinction belongs to Generation Alpha.

According to Pew Research, anyone born after 1996 is Gen Z. Generation Alpha, though, is roughly composed of everyone born in 2010 and after. While they’re still nowhere near the workforce, it’s not a bad idea to get acquainted with the term that will only be used more and more as Gen Alpha ages.

It’s also important to remember that these generations tend to span about 15 years. This means those born from 2025 to 2039 will be considered Generation Beta.

Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history.

When it comes to the working world, according to Pew Research, Gen Zers represent the smallest but fastest-growing sector of the American workforce. Roughly 9 million Gen Z workers comprise 5% of the total working population. Of note, Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history.

Who are Millennials (aka Gen Y)?

The textbook definition of Millennials ⁠— also known as Generation Y ⁠— is anyone born after 1981. They’re called “Millennials” because they’re the first generation to come of age in the new millennium — the 2000s.

Some speculate that the true Millennial was born in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when their peak childhood was in the early 2000s, therefore having been greatly influenced by the technology boom. They also find work-life balance to be necessary.

A few data points about Millennials that are important to note:

  • As of 2017, roughly 56 million Millennials are in the workforce, making them the largest working generation.
  • Over half of all Americans are Millennials or younger.
  • They’re the largest voter-eligible age group.
  • Millennials are higher educated: 39% of those ages 25 to 37 have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Millennials have brought more racial and ethnic diversity to American society.
  • Millennial women, like those in Generation X, are more likely to participate in the nation’s workforce than prior generations.
  • Millennials – those between the ages of 25 and 40 – are delaying or foregoing marriage and have been somewhat slower in forming their own households.

Who is Generation X?

Generation X is the generation that precedes Millennials but comes after Baby Boomers. Gen X is the cohort born between the early-to-mid 1960s to the early 1980s.

They’re not quite Baby Boomers because they weren’t born immediately following the war, nor are they Millennials, as their childhood exposure to modern technology was still relatively limited.

Roughly 53 million Gen X employees are in the modern workforce.

They’re defined as coming of age in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Roughly 53 million Gen X employees are in the modern workforce.

Who are Baby Boomers?

“Baby Boomers” are anyone born between 1946 and 1964. Their generational nickname was coined because of their large populace, attributed to the boom of post-war births in the mid-century. As of 2022, Boomers still comprised about 25% of the U.S. workforce.

Regarding Baby Boomers, Pew Research notes:

  • More male boomers have attended college than females, which is the opposite of Millennials.
  • Boomers had the opportunity to create stable lifestyles in their youths.

Millennial and Boomer generation stereotypes

It comes as no shock that each generation comes with its own body of stereotypes — especially Baby Boomers and Millennials.

Millennial stereotypes

Perhaps the most common Millennials stereotypes are that they’re lazy because 52% of them are living at home despite that number being driven by the pandemic. Another assumption is that they’re slower to:

  • Adopt a career
  • Home life
  • All the other traditional fixings valued by Baby Boomers

They’re also commonly seen as entitled, as stereotypes derived from their will to speak out against injustice and their work to improve the future.

Baby Boomer stereotypes

A common stereotype regarding Baby Boomers is that they’re fear-driven, which experts believe could be due to having childhoods so close to the war era. They’re also commonly referred to as “stubborn” and resistant to any sort of change. It’s believed that this is due to the emergence of technology disrupting their well-established lifestyles.

In the workplace

Regardless of their stereotypes, as workers, their generational diversity presents relatively the same.

Pew Research reports that despite a reputation for job-hopping, Millennial workers are just as likely to stick with their employers as Gen X workers were at the same age.

In 2018, 79% of Millennials aged 22 to 37 and 77% of Gen X-ers the same age in 2002 reported working for their current employer for at least 13 months. About half of both groups said they’d been with their employer for at least 5 years.

Millennial workers are just as likely to stick with their employers as Gen X workers were at the same age.

However, things have begun to change in recent years.

As the oldest of the Millennial generation began turning 40 this year, thanks to Boomer CEOs who stay in the workforce longer and the elimination of middle management, Millennials have started to fulfill their job-hopping stereotype after all. They see it as their primary option for career advancement.

What this means for today’s workforce

In terms of entering the workforce, the unemployment rate was particularly high for America’s youngest adults following the Great Recession. Then came the pandemic, which led to many issues regarding reduced wages and reduced hours. It also led to the Great Resignation.

According to, around two-thirds of bosses say millennials are the generation of workers with the highest churn rate in recent years. Only 4% of those in Gen X are quitting.

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