While dealing in generalizations is never a good idea, there have been studies, surveys and research that have outlined key differences between members of particular generations. This information is useful when interacting with colleagues, potential business partners and/or employees, as it provides insight into their values and attitudes. Below you’ll find a comparison of the characteristics of Gen X (1965-1981) and Gen Y (1982-1994).
This characteristic is key for any entrepreneur who wants to succeed in the business world. Consider the story of Ron Bakir, an Australian businessman who moved from Sydney to the Gold Coast with only $120 in his pocket to start his dream business. The fact that Ron Bakir is a member of Gen X is in accordance with the findings of a 2013 survey, where 40% of Gen X participants classified themselves as high-risk takers. Gen Y were far behind at 28%. This is interesting given that many Gen X members have families, mortgages and other commitments that mean that their financial security is vital.
While Gen Y has often been labelled as creative, forward-thinking and the generation that loves start-up businesses, research and surveys have indicated that members of Gen X are more likely to identify themselves as entrepreneurs. This could be due to a number of factors, such as a disparity in levels of experience, financial security and networking. Furthermore, the younger generation is more likely to be grappling with study debt. Figures such as Mark Zuckerberg and Peter Cashmore, however, are proof that anything is possible, no matter what your age is.
Read any article, blog or opinion piece on generational differences and you’ll notice that Gen Y is pigeonholed as the generation with a less-than-desirable work ethic. This is often attributed to their spoilt and sheltered upbringing from parents who were more financially secure and wanted their children to believe anything was possible. Gen Y members are more likely to change jobs to follow their dreams, with 55% of respondents in one survey saying they saw their job as a stepping stone. Gen X, on the other hand, is often regarded as hard-working and more family orientated. One survey also found that members of Gen X were considered to be more effective managers.
Given that they grew up in a world where Walkmans, computers and mobile phones transformed into MP3 players, laptops and smart phones, Gen Y is unsurprisingly very tech-savvy. They are therefore often valued for their skills in online platforms such as social media, blogging, graphic design and app development. However, some of the greatest technological minds of the last few decades belong to Gen X; think of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders and geniuses behind Google. The tech knowledge gap between Gen Y and Baby Boomers is much more significant.
So what do you think? Are you a member of Gen X or Gen Y? Are these simply false generalisations or is there truth to these findings? Whether you agree or disagree, let us know by commenting in the box below.