Generational Cohort: Understanding The Challenges Of Generational Differences

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A generation is defined as a cohort of people who have similar shared experiences at the same time over critical developmental stages (youth, marriage, children, retirement). Each cohort experiences historical events at the same time in their lives (war, recession, technological advances). These shared experiences arguably bring about relatively unique, unifying commonalities that identify the various generational groups through beliefs and values, which in turn gives them a shared identity (Lester et al. 2012). Each generational group through their shared history is left with a predisposition for future behaviours, attitudes, and responses that stay with them throughout their lifetime (Eyerman & Turner 1998; Gilleard 2004). Individuals born within a few years of the varying cohort splits are known as cuspers, they…show more content…
Owing to the experiences of each generation they have unique views of the world and in particular work ethics, wants and needs from employers. Lancaster & Stillman (2002) suggest that understanding the generational differences is key to an efficient and effective workforce, which leads to better retention, employee engagement, and performance. Before reviewing the generational cohorts it is imperative to note some challenges when defining them. Whilst birth date range is the most commonly agreed term of reference for generational cohorts, there is debate on the dates of where one generation starts and ends (Parry & Urwin 2011). Pilcher (1994) posits that the actual boundary does not need to be concise as the traits specific to each generation shine through regardless of the “boundary debate”. Research has generally adopted four cohorts which act as a common theme throughout the literature: 1. Those born prior to the end of World War II, known as “Veterans” or “Traditionalists” 2. Born between 1945 – mid 1960s, “Baby Boomers” or “Boomers”

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