The Office Melting Pot: Understanding Your Multigenerational Team and How They Use Technology

October 25th, 2023

Featured in Southern Funeral Director Magazine

By: Deanna Wilkinson, Director of Sales and Marketing

From the Boomers to Generation Z, there is no doubt your business or place of work likely includes an array of generations working under one roof. While each generation exhibits its own unique characteristics and work habits, it also possesses their own technological skill set. Understanding each generation and how they utilize technology is essential to maximizing your organization’s productivity and efficiency.

The following is based on information gathered from the US Census
and Pew Research Center.

Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964)
Generation X (Born 1965-1979)
Millennials (Born 1980-1994)
Generation Z (Born 1995-2009)

Baby Boomers (1946-1964)

  • Population: 71.6 Million
  • Approximate workforce: 27 Million
  • Pioneered Technology: Television
  • Communication: Telephone
  • Characteristics: Boomers tend to have a strong work ethic are competitive, goal-oriented, are self-reliant, and usually good communicators. While boomers dow show intrest in learning new technologies, they are the generation with the least number of owned computers and devices.

According to Martech, only 49% of young boomers (ages 57-66) own a laptop with 65% owning a desktop computer. Conversely, 43% of older boomers {67-77) own a laptop and 64% own a desktop computer. Additionally, as few as 4% of younger boomers own a tablet such as an iPad while only 3% of older boomers own such a device.
As early adopters of the telephone, boomers have shown interest in the latest telephone technologies and advancements with 85% of young boomers and 84% of older boomers owning a cell phone. While younger generations have found ways to utilize the internet and incorporate social media into their work lives, onlyl2% of boomers think it is appropriate to talk, text, or surf the internet during work hours.

Key Takeaway: Boomers are interested in learning more about technology but do not feel the need to incorporate it into all aspects of their lives. Do not force them to use devices and computers but rather show them the benefits, offer assistance, and let them transition at their own pace. Offer your boomers front-facing roles and utilize them to improve organizational communications.

Generation X (1965 – 1980)

  • Population: 65.2 Million
  • Approximate workforce: 53 Milion
  • Pioneered Technology: Computer
  • Communication Media: Email & Phone
  • Characteristics: Gen X are often entrepreneurial and seek a work-life balance. While pragmatic and skeptical, Generation X proved to be adaptable and independent. Generation X saw a significant evolution in technology growing up and are comfortable with the efficiency technology provides at home and in the workplace.

According to Martech, 92% of Generation X own a cell phone, while 61% own a computer and 5% own a tablet like an iPad. This generation values work-life balance highly and finds technology as a useful resource so they tend to be more exploratory with new gadgets, programs, and tech tools.

Key Takeaway: Gen Xers have strong technical abilities and should be involved when researching new programs, tools, or gadgets at the office. They likely prefer email communication (as pioneers of the communication forum), so utilize this platform when communicating projects or goals. Offer your Gen X colleagues flexibility and remote work options to help maximize their work productivity and help them keep a happy home balance.

Millennials (1980 – 1996)

  • Population: 73 Million
  • Approximate workforce: 56 Milion
  • Pioneered Technology: Smartphone & Tablet
  • Communication Media: Social Media & Texting
  • Characteristics: Millennials are tech-savvy, highly tolerant and confident. In the workplace, they are creative, innovative, and flexible

Millennials were introduced to technology at a young age and were the first generation to grow up with technology such as cable TV, the internet, computers, social media, and smartphones. Millennials value personalization, authenticity, and social responsibility and continue to be the generation with the broadest technology usage.

Key Takeaway: Millennials have the majority share of the current workforce and will expect technology to be incorporated into their work environment. Focus on using email and text as forms of communication with your millennial colleagues and ask their preferences regarding devices, programs, and work environment. Millennials can be utilized to help incorporate new technologies at your organization and assist other generations in adapting to those with their flexible and tolerant attitudes.

Generation Z (1997-2012)

  • Population: 68 Million
  • Approximate workforce: 7 Milion
  • Pioneered Technology: Virtual & Augmented Reality
  • Communication Media: Handheld devices and smartwatches
  • Characteristics: Gen Z are self-aware, innovative, educated, want to make a difference and value convenience.

Generation Z primarily uses hand held communication devices and accessories to communicate. They also received smartphones younger than any other generation. According to Martech, 57% of Generation Z uses messaging apps half of the time when on their phones. Among the top messaging apps are, Snapchat, iMessage, Skype, and Facebook Messenger. Over 40% have tried virtual reality and 12% use it daily. Generation Z only knows a world with technology and highly values accessibility, convenience, and technological advancements.

Key Takeaway: Gen Z is likely to be the most skilled with technology in the workplace. They grew up with the world at their fingertips and will expect the most advanced technology tools. Message apps and texting will work best when communicating with this generation as they often avoid talking on the phone. Having Gen Z workers skilled in technology can help with productivity and innovation just make sure they have the latest gadgets. Offer team collaborations and an environment for Gen Z’ers to grow and learn and this will make them most productive.

As Steve Jobs said, “It’s not a faith in technology. It’s faith in people.”. Technology was meant to improve our lives and should be utilized with the team you have to maximize your organization’s effectiveness. Rapid technological change has forced nearly every generation to adapt, whether they’re ready to or not. Technology can help bridge generational gaps in the workplace, especially when you’re able to cultivate effective communication to identify your team’s strengths, weaknesses, expectations, and the resources they need to succeed. Finding ways to embrace your colleagues’ talents and utilize technology will not only improve comradery but also make for an overall more effective team.

About the Author: Deanna Wilkinson serves as Director of Sales and Marketing for Express Funeral Funding. A Maryland native, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Townson University, mastering knowledge in marketing and mass communications. Wilkinson began her funeral service career in 2015 with one of the nation’s largest casket suppliers. She joined Express Funeral Funding in 2017 and is responsible for implementing strategic sales and marketing objectives to maximize annual growth while leading in efforts to ensure brand awareness is present to funeral professionals nationwide.