Inter-Generational Conflict Common at the Office, Study States

August 27, 2004 ( - More than 40% of employers have witnessed workplace conflict due to generational differences, a new study found.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey reported that in companies with over 500 employees, 58% of employers witnessed conflict between differing generations, which was due in most part to different views on work ethic and work/life balance issues, according to a news release.

SHRM’s 2004 Generational Differences Survey queried HR professionals regarding inter-generational work habits, the quality of their work, types of conflicts, retention factors, and strengths and weaknesses of each generation. Four generations are identified in the survey: Veterans, those born before 1945; Baby Boomers, born from 1945 to 1964; Generation X (GenXers), born from 1965 to 1980; and Nexters, born after 1980.

Almost a quarter of Human Resource professionals pointed to differencing perceptions regarding work hours as the main point of contention between generations. Most often, these complaints originated from older workers about younger employees’ willingness to work longer hours. Past research by SHRM has found a balance between work and life is much more commonly sought by younger generations.

The survey also found that many employers – 42% in total – felt that they were losing GenXers and Nexters because of the perception that career advancement would be slowed by a bottleneck of older workers in top positions.