Research Shows How Generational Differences Impact the Workplace

Published: June 22, 2022 | Last Updated: July 14, 2022by Vanessa Chapman

Summary of: Research Shows How Generational Differences Impact the Workplace

Applebaum , S. (2022, March 5). A Study of Generational Conflicts in the Workplace. Retrieved June 9, 2022.Generational Conflicts in the Workplace (2022)

Background & Theory

This article focuses on understanding the different types of conflicts that arise in the workplace. These conflicts are categorized around value-based conflicts, behavior based conflicts, or identity based conflicts. Through this article there is an emphasis on generational differences that can affect how managers and employees communicate. The study aims to show how to resolve conflicts by identifying generational conflicts and creating new strategies to mitigate and prevent conflict in the workplace.

Research Question(s)

  • What are common themes of conflicts that arise within the workplace?
  • What are some strategies to combat generational conflicts?


Behavior Based Conflict: 

Behavior based conflict arises when other’s behaviors negatively impact individuals. Generational issues can also be a theme of behavior-based conflict. The main conflict that arises in the studies show that there is a massive communication issue between leaders that come from different generations. Research shows that different generations do not communicate with each other; a survey indicates that 51% of baby boomers and 66% of older leaders reported little to no interaction with younger generations (Casison, 2008). Younger generations prefer communicating through email, social media, or instant messaging. While older generations prefer face-to-face communication. The lack of communication leads to more conflicts within the workplace that must be resolved. Ultimately, the success of these organization depends on how they manage communication efforts.

Value Based Conflict:

People are driven by their values. Therefore, it’s pertinent to make sure our own personal values align with the values of the organization. When a value-based conflict comes up it is important to have open communication and transparency around the issue. The studies show that employees from Gen Z and Gen Y value personal achievement and work life balance. They are also focused on utilizing technology advancements in their careers. One theme of conflict that arises is older generations view younger generations as reluctant to accept the way things are and have been. Organizations must consider how each generation has different values and try to view the strengths in their own and others that differ.

Identity Based Conflict:

As shown in the studies, identity conflict arises when differences exist between individuals that can’t see eye to eye due to generational differences. Identity based conflict comes from the general sense of wanting to belong in a particular group. Conflict arises when there is constant comparison between themselves and others. Organizations need to understand that groups will form no matter what. The key is to try to integrate everyone and keep interaction and communication high.

Managing Generational Conflict

Managing generational conflict can be difficult because each individual has different ways of viewing different variables such as: social, political, and economic developments. It is natural to say that these variables have shaped us in how we think, feel, and react. Studies show that in order to combat this, as a workforce we must embrace and value each generation and capitalize on each era’s strengths and weaknesses. In doing so, we can create deeper relationships and keep productivity and innovation high.


The results show that many conflicts that arise are due to generational differences, identity based conflicts, value based conflicts, and behavior conflicts. Each conflict should be handled with an open mind in order to learn from one another and continue creating professional development initiatives. In creating a safe space for people to raise their concerns, trust is deepened within the organization. It is crucial to understand the root of the conflict and know that these conflicts may arise due cultural differences, upbringing, and past work experiences. It is crucial to understand that we all evolve during our lifetime, and as we evolve we shift perspectives. Finding a common ground between individuals is key when it comes to resolving conflict!

What This Means

  • Organizations can mitigate and prevent conflict by developing a system in which there is mentorship involved with each employee.
  • In order to keep employees happy within their organization, the people operations division must continue furthering education around leadership styles.
  • It is of the essence to identify the theme of conflict as soon as possible and use intervention immediately before the conflict escalates further.

Final Takeaway

For consultants: In placing high importance on understanding generational differences, we can come together as a community.

For everyone: Always remember to be open minded and try to be understanding of the differences we each bring to the table; moreover, identifying those differences can create more growth within the team.

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Vanessa Chapman

Vanessa has a background in Business, Psychology, and Mediation. She is currently Director of Client Services for Peaceful Leaders Academy. Some of her hobbies include continuous learning, reading, writing, and participating in yoga retreats!