You're working in your cubicle, frantically finishing a project.

A man sitting in front of a keyboard typing on keys frantically Suddenly, you overhear a conversation between your boss and another supervisor. Your boss suddenly proclaims:

"Oh, that is so typical of millennials! They're so needy and demanding!"

Man with a confused expression on his face The other supervisor agrees with your boss, "Yeah, that's why I prefer working with Gen X-ers. They are at least dependable and responsible."

Woman scratching her head stating

Wait, you're a millennial!

You think of yourself as dependable and reliable. And who are these Gen X-ers exactly?

Understanding the characteristics people associate with Gen X-ers and Millennials will help you navigate spaces where these two generations coexist.

Who are Gen X-ers and Millennials?

There are three key differences between Gen X-ers and Millennials in terms of personality traits, ways they spend time, and work values.

A woman holding out both hands making comparison motions before holding out her right hand and talking more.

Gen X-ers

  1. Born between 1960 and 1979

  2. Impacted by major events such as the end of the Cold War, increased TV usage, and the introduction of personal computers

  3. Prefer to be independent


  1. Born between 1980 and 2000

  2. Impacted by major events such as increased use of internet, The Great Recession in 2008, and world events such as the September 11th attacks

  3. Prefer to have more social interactions

Different personality traits

Common personality traits can be associated with Gen X-ers and Millennials:

Zoe Deschanel pointing at herself stating

Gen X-ers

  • Independent

  • Direct

  • Resourceful

  • Skeptical

  • Pragmatic


  • Sociable and people-centric

  • Open to new ideas

  • Multitaskers

  • Optimistic

  • Tech-savvy

Different ways to spend time

Major social events could have impacted the differences in how both generations spend their time.

Peson sitting in front of computer screen in the middle of a clock.

Gen X-ers are more likely to...

  • Spend time doing housework

  • Watch television

  • Physically buy things from the store

Millennials are more likely to...

  • Spend time doing leisure activities

  • Participate in extracurricular activities such as sports

  • Buy things from the internet

Different work values

Gen Xers and Millenials often have different views about work. Companies usually have multiple generations working together, so it's important to understand the differences in their work styles and values.

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Gen X-ers

  • Value stability

  • Working to live

  • Prefer face-to-face collaboration

  • Want formal supervision from their superiors


  • Value fun and innovation

  • Want work-life balance

  • Prefer remote work and flexibility

  • Want support from supervisors but freedom to do the job in their own way

Scenario: If you were the boss, what would you do?

Man wearing glasses sipping from cup of coffee and nodding his head.

Imagine that you're the boss of a group of Gen X-ers and Millennials. The group is not working well together.

How would you manage this group to work better together? Read through the answers below and choose one correct answer. Flaticon Icon

A. Call out those who arn't working well together and reassign tasks to those who are more capable of completing the work.

B. Assign the Millenials to work remotely while the Gen X-ers work in the office.

C. Facilitate a mentoring program where Gen X-ers and Millennials can learn from and socialize with each other.

D. Talk to your HR department about how to resolve this issue.


Given what you know about Millennials and Gen X-ers, what would you do if you were the boss?

Take Action

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Now that you know more about the differences between Millennials and Gen X-ers, remember to do the following:


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