Date: 20.04.2020

Author: Tomcho Tomov, Director of the National Center for Competence Assessment

Readed: 609

                                                                                "The saddest thing for the younger generation is that I am no longer part of it." 

Albert Einstein



For decades, researchers and managers have been analyzing differences between people on the basis of education, experience, gender, ethnic origin, typology of behavior, etc., in order to find more effective ways of managing and influencing them. But we have not yet been able to recognize and sufficiently utilize one of the forms of diversity in the organization, which is increasingly important - generational differences.

What does “generation” mean?

Generations are groups of people born in the same span of time, with relatively identical views, a common cultural and value system. Each generation is shaped by the economic conditions and the family environment, by the cultural and social factors of the society in which he/she grows up, and by the technologies that accompany his/hers maturity. Shared common history, dominant values, personal patterns and patterns of behavior, economic and cultural conditions of people who lived in the same historical period, form specific traits in them. Researchers call these traits a generational personality. Generational personality traits are not strictly personal. Rather, they are social, manifesting themselves not so much in the personal life, but in the social environment, affecting perceptions, attitudes and social behavior.

The increasing distance between the generations

People changed their environment, but the environment can too made a person unrecognizable. The development of knowledge, technology and innovation create challenges whose impact we are yet to experience. But what is completely tangible today is the widening gap between generations. The differences are so sharp and dynamic that the work environment is unable to "fit" and integrate the diversity of interests of the increasingly difficulties between employees of different generations. The workplace does not belong to one generation, although some managers would like it to be so. Each new generation has its own views, values ​​and expectations that do not fit into traditional models of government. While the older generations imposed their understanding on the younger ones before, we are now witnessing the opposite phenomenon.

Today, four different generations of employees are working hard to keep up with the workplace tempo. Practice shows that the distance between the generations is deepening and often it is the basis of many interpersonal, business and organizational conflicts. Generational divisions today can hurt the productivity and efficiency of organizations, the motivation of people to a much greater extent than in the past. It is well known that in times of change and accelerated technological development, the differences between the generations widen significantly and even lead to crisis shocks.

According to Bruce Tulgan, CEO of Rainmaker Thinking [1], "in the past, the system was quite simple. The old ones were on top and the young ones were required to obey the orders. This is already in the past. The old system has been replaced by a new, more complex workplace situation where managers need to be sensitive to age issues in order to be effective. "

What are the generations that researchers are talking about?

• Generation Z - employees aged 18-26, born in the period 1993-2001. The generation of change. Growing up in the dynamic of technology and science, with a sense of “newness”, they think differently and see the world in a whole new way. For them, the digital is even more normal than the real. Z-s adapt to and depend on technologies like no other generation. At work, they search for meaning, challenge, freedom of expression, communication and even fun. Leisure is considered a taboo. They experience difficulties in their communication with older people. They want to make the world better place than they found it.

Generation Y - Employees 27-39 years old, born 1980-1992. The Generation of “I deserve”. They have grown up with new technologies, the digital revolution, and take them for granted. They use all technological tools to facilitate every aspect of their lives - personal and professional. They tend to deny traditions, have a high self-esteem and love to be the center of attention. They have a rich portfolio of skills and are oriented towards different professional fields. They are motivated by learning opportunities if it will contribute to "career transferability".

Generation X - Employees 40-54 years old, born in 1965-1979. The 'I can and I want' generation. The have grown up in the face of political and economic transitions, crises and turmoil. They are charged with many social engagements (family, children, personal projects, business and professional contacts) and have little time for themselves. Independent, ambitious, flexible and uncompromising in their interests and goals, they strive for security, stability, power, high incomes, authority and high professional status.

Generation T – workers, aged 55-65 and above, born before 1964. The Generation of Traditionalists. They have shaped their worldview in a planned economy. They lived in difficult, uncertain and radically changing conditions, but were socially active and committed to work. They are loyal to institutions and leaders. They are sceptic towards change and experience more difficulties adapting to new conditions. Traditional values ​​and understandings of how the work is done are upheld. They want to leave something behind.

Generational differences management

Knowledge of generational differences is an important indicator of competence and effectiveness in management. Successful organization does not mean that one generation should be preferred to another or that they should be isolated from one another. There is no good or bad generation. There is no universal criterion to judge the advantages and disadvantages of one generation over another. It is more essential to understand and take into account the particularities of each generation, and use them in the interests of work. The better the managers understand the unique combination of factors that shape the attitudes of each generation, the better they will coordinate the efforts of people of different ages in the organization and channel energy, motivation and behavior in the interest of business goals. In this regard, psychologist Hank Carp [2] emphasizes: "We try to remember what we wanted when we were their age. Not only does it not work for us, it also takes us in the wrong direction. Your own experience as a manager is important, but you should be aware that it has been shaped by certain events and ideas specific to your generation. … I do not say that a generation must accept the values ​​of others. I don't even think it should understand the values ​​of others. But balance and efficiency in an organization are the result of the realization of the existence of different generational values ​​and the acceptance of their right to exist. "


BIA, in partnership with KNSB, implements a two-year project funded by the European Social Fund through OP Human Resources Development, the main objectives of which are two: 1. Addressing the challenges facing employers in terms of human resource management and industrial relations arising from the changing demographic trends and an aging workforce; 2. Ensuring and maintaining a work environment tailored to the specific age needs of different generations and the need to transfer knowledge and experience between generations at work.


[1] Консултантска фирма по въпросите на поколенческите различия в САЩ

[2] Karp, H., Bridging The Boomer--Xer Gap: Creating Authentic Teams for High Performance at Work, 2002