Get access

Generational differences in workplace behavior

Authors

  • John Bret Becton,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Management and Marketing, College of Business, University of Southern Mississippi
    • Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to John Bret Becton, University of Southern Mississippi, Department of Management and International Business, 118 College Dr. #5077, Hattiesburg, MS 39406, USA. E-mail: bret.becton@usm.edu

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Harvell Jack Walker,

    1. Department of Management, College of Business, Auburn University
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Allison Jones-Farmer

    1. Department of Management, College of Business, Auburn University
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Popular stereotypes suggest that generational differences among workers present challenges for workplace managers. However, existing empirical research provides mixed evidence for generational differences in important values and attitudes. The current study extends generational effects research by examining differences in actual workplace behaviors. Drawing from commonly held generational stereotypes, the authors hypothesized that Baby Boomers would exhibit (Hypothesis 1) fewer job mobility behaviors and (Hypothesis 2) more instances of compliance-related behaviors in comparison with both GenXers and Millennials, while (Hypothesis 3) GenXers would be less likely to work overtime in comparison with Baby Boomers and Millennials. A sample of 8,040 applicants at two organizations was used to test these predictions. Results provided support for Hypothesis 1 and Hypothesis 3 and partial support for Hypothesis 2, but the effect sizes for these relationships were small. It appears the effects of generational membership on workplace behavior are not as strong as suggested by commonly held stereotypes. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.

Ancillary