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Line Of Sight

Calming the Waves

The corporate world is like a jungle. “It’s a jungle out there,” as they say. With the rivalry among competitors, the constant struggle for market share, and the intense need to survive, perhaps it really is a jungle. This world, however, can also be associated with the vast ocean, with its waves as its people, its people as its workforce.

We start with the first wave. They are the Silent Generation, also known as the Traditionalists, who were born from 1925 to 1945. As they lived their youth from the Great Depression to the end of World War II, they grew up with many rules and pressure to conform. They learned the significance of work and stability, and look for these things in life due to their early experiences. In the workplace, they are generally referred to as the “Work first!” kind of people and prefer written communication. In a 1951 article by Time magazine, the Traditionalists were also characterized as a generation which is “ready to conform.” Since they value conformity, the Silent Generation generally believes that no one should stand out and everyone should work for the common good.

In comes the second wave: the Baby Boomers born from 1946 to 1964, who grew up with fewer rules and a more fostering environment. Although this generation also faced post-war effects similar to their Traditionalist parents—the civil rights movement, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War—a shift between the two generations is evident. In a 2016 study of generations, it is said their differences lie on the way the Baby Boomers deal with change. In the workplace, they desire challenge, opportunity, and excellence in their career with their phrase “Live to work!” and prefer telephone or face-to-face communication.

Then we have the third wave, known by many names, such as Generation X, 13th Generation, and Baby Busters. Their first name was popularized by Douglas Coupland in his 1991 book entitled Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. By the time this generation was born (1965 to 1980), there was a general peacefulness in society, unlike in the first two generations. Generation X’s phrase, “Work to live!” is opposite from the lifestyle of the Baby Boomers. Generation X expects their career to keep moving forward or they will leave the workplace. It was also during this time that personal computers started to emerge. Thus, they are more techno-literate than the generations before them and prefer electronic communications.

Along comes the fourth wave: the generation born from 1981 to 2000, the Millennials. They grew up during a time of general prosperity and were raised in a world where everyone is a winner, thus, are sometimes categorized as self-entitled individuals. As they lived a life with rapidly changing technology, including the internet and social networks, questions are commonly answered in minutes or even seconds, and they prefer communications through text or instant messages. This generation tends to have a short attention span and, therefore, does exceptionally well in multitasking. As evidenced by the lifestyle of the Millennials, they are the “Live, then work!” kind of people. In the workplace, this group is more task-oriented and expects attention and feedback from their higher-ups.

In an organization where each of these waves has different values, outlooks, and lifestyles, misunderstandings and conflicts might arise. This could result in a clashing of waves in the midst of a calm ocean. However, with proper fostering and understanding within the organization, these waves, in spite of their diversity, can work towards a common goal. Their differences can be seen as a strength by the entity instead of a weakness. We can always bear in mind that these generations, no matter how jumbled, can slowly fit into pieces to create a perfect masterpiece.

Ms. Romarate is senior, Tax & Outsourcing of P&A Grant Thornton.  P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 850 staff members.  We are in Makati, Cavite, Cebu and Davao. For comments on this article, please email   or  For our services, visit  Follow us on Twitter: pagrantthornton, and FB: P&A Grant Thornton.


As published in Mindanao Times, dated 19 September 2017