From Baby Boomers to Gen Z: Navigating Expectations in the Modern Workplace

Five generations are now actively in the workplace with different expectations from employers. What are their expectations? Can employers manage their different needs? And how can they do that?


Victoria Egba on November 22, 2023 Average reading time: 5 min
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From Baby Boomers to Gen Z: Navigating Expectations in the Modern Workplace

The current workforce now has five distinct generations: traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X (Gen X), millennials, and Generation Z (Gen Z). They have their own perspectives and values, and these factors influence how they see their employment, what matters to them, and how they behave at work.

In maintaining a productive environment, employers may need to review the way they interact with their employees and attempt to find a middle-ground to meet their diverse needs to make everyone feel included and respected at work.

However, it is no doubt going to be a difficult task, and their needs can be miles away from each other. Where the traditionalist may feel bugged seeing a pet in the office, millennials see it as a perk. Let’s explore the generation’s expectations.

Generation Z (1997–2012)

Generation Z, also known as the Digital Natives, were born right into the age of technology, and this greatly influences what they expect in the workplace. When it comes to where they work, Gen Z likes agile spaces, where they can easily switch between tasks, and hot-desking, where they don’t have a fixed desk. Tech-integrated spaces with eco-friendly features are simply the most attractive for this generation.

When it comes to relaxation, Gen Z wants much more than simple coffee and tea.

However, when it comes to relaxation, Gen Z wants much more than simple coffee and tea. They expect the latest technology, meditation spaces to relax, and a variety of snacks to choose from. For social activities, Gen Z is big on virtual activities, like online games or meetings, gamified challenges, and activities that make a positive impact on the community. It goes without saying that the generation enjoys remote or hybrid work structures more than office settings.

They value having the creative freedom to make decisions, quickly learn new skills, and focus on mental well-being. A typical Gen Z-centred office is very collaborative, as they interact as both friends and colleagues while still maintaining their personal space.

Generations Workspace Office Design Amenities Social Activities Employer Expectations
Gen Z Agile spaces, hot-desking, task-specific areas Tech-integrated, eco-friendly Advanced tech, meditation spaces, diverse snacks Virtual activities, gamified challenges, social impact activities Digital proficiency, autonomy, quick skill acquisition, mental well-being focus
Millennials Open office plans, co-working spaces Modern, areas for relaxation


coffee/tea, snacks, wellness rooms, recreational area Regular outings, “happy hours”, retreats Work flexibility, regular feedback, strong culture/values, rapid advancement
Gen X Open spaces with privacy/quiet zones Collaborative spaces, meeting rooms Better coffee machines, snacks, fitness center Team building, company outings Work-hour flexibility, work-life balance, professional growth, transparent communication
Baby Boomers Combination of private offices and cubicles Functional with comfort Coffee/tea, break rooms, company cafeteria Occasional team lunches/dinners, retirement parties Recognition, traditional benefits, advancement opportunities, training/development

Millennials (1981 – 1996)

The progress in changing the future of work took a new leap from the millennial generation. Imitating Gen X, they often like working in open offices and shared spaces, where they can easily chat and collaborate. Millennials typically use apps like Slack, Zoom, and Workplace by Facebook more than other generations in collaborating on tasks. You’ll likely see a more modern office design in a millennial-type office. They like cosy places to take a break, like comfy chairs or even bean bags — creating a friendly environment.

Millennials also value spending time with their co-workers outside of work, going for regular outings, having “happy hours,” or even planning retreats. These activities create a sense of teamwork and friendship among colleagues.

From their bosses, they continue the need for work flexibility and desire feedback on their performance. More importantly, they seem really big on having a strong company culture with clear values and opportunities to move up the career ladder quickly.

Having pets in the office is quite enjoyable and even a perk for most millennials. They would likely have a “bring your pet to work” day to make the office a more relaxed and fun place for everyone.

Gen X (1965-1980)

Generation X brings with them their own set of workplace preferences and ideals. The shift in generational desires becomes more obvious from Gen X. For starters; strict personal offices don’t exactly work for them. The typical Gen X prefers having open environments that encourage cooperation, although they still value privacy and quiet zones when necessary. This generation is frequently attracted to office designs that encourage cooperation, such as collaborative areas and conference rooms that allow teamwork and idea-sharing.

When it comes to amenities, Gen Xers may want nicer coffee machines, snacks, and even on-site fitness centres. These extra benefits help to create a more comfortable and vibrant work environment for this generation.

While still seeking professional growth like other generations, Gen X began the big fuse for work-hour flexibility, but with a strong emphasis on establishing a healthy work-life balance.

They simply want to still have a life outside the workplace while still climbing the professional ladder. According to SHRM, 55% of employees choose work-life balance and flexibility as essential aspects of their job satisfaction, and this trend likely started from Gen X.

This generation also tends to build genuine relationships with co-workers that balance professionalism with friendships and value the collaborative workplace culture it brings. Gen X may have pioneered more of the workplace changes that Millennials and Gen Z now push to have more of.

- Four distinct sections of an office space, each styled for a different generation on the labor market.

Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964)

Baby Boomers, on the other hand, love consistency and frequently seek professions that provide a sense of security and dependability. As a result of their economic status, this generation prioritizes job stability and the traditional view of climbing the corporate ladder.

When it comes to workspace preferences, slightly similar to traditionalists, Baby Boomers prefer structured environments. In addition to having personal offices, they are open to cubicles; so far, they have a sense of personal space and stability.

Where traditionalists prioritize hierarchy in the workplace, baby boomers are big on having comfort while having a functional workplace.

The simple amenities of coffee and tea in break rooms work for them, but having a cafeteria is a good plus. The generational shift in desires becomes more glaring from their desire for social activities. Boomers appreciate work parties and occasional office lunches. They somewhat encourage work friendships through these events, but they keep their professional boundaries strict.

Boomers are happy with employers that can recognize their work, offer traditional benefits and set them up for career advancement. When these are provided, job loyalty becomes a characteristic shared by Baby Boomers and traditionalists. They consider their work as a long-term commitment that contributes to a secure and constant work environment.

The Traditionalist (1922-1945)

Traditionalist generation, also known as the Veterans or the Silent Generation, and the Greatest Generation. They are generally known for their strong work ethic, their strong work ethic, loyalty, and respect for authority.

Traditionalists usually prefer having their own space, such as private offices or dedicated work areas. They typically have a practical focus on having a clear hierarchy. Basically, they care a lot about feeling respected for the level of work they’ve put in over the years. When it comes to basic amenities, having coffee and tea in a break room is usually enough for them, and social activities at work are not common, except during company-wide events.

This generation expects their employers to offer a well-organized workplace with formal ways of communicating, set work hours, and a strong emphasis on having job security. Unlike millennials, having pets in the office is a rare occurrence, and they often prefer to keep their work life separate from their personal life.


Simply put, traditionalists value loyalty and a structured environment, while Baby Boomers seek stability and a clear career path. Generation X appreciates work-life balance and autonomy, while Millennials thrive in collaborative, tech-friendly spaces. Gen Z, the tech-savvy bunch, embraces flexibility and digital integration. In keeping the office sanity with the numerous needs, employers may need to improve communication and try to create a space that allows everyone to thrive. Giant offers data insights to help you make appropriate decisions and create a better working environment.

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