Multigenerational Workforces: From conflict to collaboration

written by Robin Hertel, ms, rn, cmsrn

This is an article written by my friend and colleague, Robin Hertel. Robin wrote this article several years ago but I recently re-read it while preparing for a discussion about generational influences in the workplace. I found the information to be so valuable and wanted to share it with my readers.

In her article, Robin describes the different generational levels and the key events, people and influences taking place in the world during their time period:
·      Radio Babies(1930-1945) – Dr. Spock, Hiroshima, and Betty Crocker
·      Baby Boomers(1946-1945) – John F. Kennedy, Charles Manson, and the Rolling Stones
·     Generation X(1960-1980) – Bill Gates, Madonna and the internet
·      Generation Y (1980-2000) – the Backstreet Boys, Barney, and chat rooms
I love how she provides an easy to read table that includes each generation and a short descriptor of their work ethic, leadership style, and views of authority. Robin describes each as it relates to potential conflict and helps the reader to anticipate and prepare for acceptance and understanding.

After describing common conflicts, Robin provides the reader with solutions:
1.    Avoid stereotyping – realize that not everyone falls neatly into his or her generational “box”.  Respect subtle differences and maintain flexibility.
2.    Appreciate different skills and competencies among generations – Each generation brings a different skill set. Robin encourages each of us to embrace each other’s strengths.
3.   Take steps to avoid the great divide – engage multi-generational groups in open dialogue and encourage sharing of fears, desires and goals.
Robin closes her article by challenging us to think beyond the Golden Rule by recognizing that “doing onto others as you would have them do unto you” may not fit within a multi-generational group. Instead, pause and consider the generational differences of your peers and treat them accordingly.
Thanks for writing this wonderful article Robin!!!
Thanks for reading. Would love to read your comments regarding generational influences.

Take care and stay connected!


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Robin’s article was published in the AMSN Newsletter which can be found at