Many Generation Xers grew up as latchkey children, who came home from school to a house without a parent or adult supervision, and were responsible for entertaining and taking care of themselves. Their heavy dependence on video games and television sets resulted in Generation X’s characterization as resourceful and independent.
While growing up Generation Xers were aware of investigations that called into question many major organizations, including the U.S. presidency, military, organized religion, and corporations. As a result, Generation X was likely to have little confidence in institutions that had failed them in the past and instead placed more faith in themselves. After seeing many of the icons of this generation indicted and exposed in the media or tabloids, this generation felt they had few heroes. Divorce rates tripled during Generation Xers’ formative years. These events contributed to Generation Xer’s skepticism and distrust of organizational and personal relationships.
Many of the Millennials’ parents had smaller numbers of children and better earnings. As a result they were very committed to rearing these Millennial children. Parents of some Millennials had a tendency to become overly involved in their children’s jobs and personal activities. The way in which parents of Millennials hovered over their children resulted in the introduction of the term helicopter parents. Media reinforced the renewed interest in child nurturing with a return to family-friendly movies in the 1980s.
The Millennial generation has lived with technology from an early age. The most watched-over generation in our history, they respect the rules and accept authority, and are optimistic about the future. The Millennials are a group with worldwide impact because of the availability of technology and communications, and more freedom and access to move across borders and travel than prior generations. Large numbers of Millennials join organizations and volunteer for community service, showing a renewed interest in giving back to the community. The impact of violent events like the Columbine High School shootings, the Oklahoma City bombing, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and gang violence may have helped foster a return of valor and patriotism.
These differences in experiences give these two generational group different perspectives which often lead to conflict on how to handle situations in a work environment.