Generational Differences at Work Reconsidered

Peter Totterdill at Glasgow Masterclass 2020

Peter Totterdill
Founding Director, Workplace Innovation Europe

We’ve had some interesting discussions with our parts and clients about inter-generational differences, and we even ran a webinar on ‘Gen Z’ for Scottish Enterprise.

Now I’m beginning to have doubts.

Most of the conclusions from the webinar about what ‘Gen Z’ expects from work actually turn out to be fairly universal – indeed they more or less reflect years of research evidence about what constitutes ‘good work’.

And research shows fairly clearly that there are not large differences between generations in relation to what they want and their work attitudes and behaviours – see here and here, for example.

A recent LinkedIn article by Professor Rob Briner argues that much of the rhetoric about generations is both misleading and harmful. There is certainly a lot of noise about this (and much else) on social media, drowning out the evidence about what really matters.

So why don’t we focus on evidence-based approaches to creating good work for everyone, rather than creating unhelpful divisions?

What do you think?