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How Millennial, Gen X, and Boomer Employees Are Viewed at Work

Which generation of workers in the United States is viewed as being the most valuable by co-workers? How do the professional qualities of Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers compare in their colleagues' opinion?

To find out, LendingTree surveyed 1,000 workers in the United States.

Respondents were asked to rate their co-workers' skills/qualities—including work ethic, willingness to learn, and creativity—on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 least exhibiting the quality, and 7 most exhibiting the quality.

Gen X employees received the highest average score (5.6). Baby Boomers ranked second (5.4), and Millennials third (5.2).

Gen Xers earned a high rating for reliability and did not receive an average score below 5.1 for any of the other qualities assessed.

Millennials received the highest score for technology skills but ranked last in 7 of the 10 qualities, including reliability, work ethic, productivity, and intelligence.

Baby Boomers received the lowest score for technology skills, but they ranked well for reliability and work ethic.

About the research: The report was based on data from a survey of 1,000 workers in the United States.


  • by Peter Altschuler Fri Jan 5, 2018 via web

    What was the mix of the respondents? Were they evenly divided among the three groups, did one group dominate, was one under-represented? If a respondent was part of one age cohort, were they only allowed to vote on the other two?

    Without that information, it's difficult to assess the validity of the results.

    It's studies like this that give credence to the maxim "there are lies, damn lies, and statistics."

  • by Mark.Etting Fri Jan 5, 2018 via web

    Echoing what Peter said. Responses are most likely biased.

    As someone who falls into that weird generation between Xers and Millenials, I find Boomers to be the most difficult to work with. Not only do they lack the technological know-how, I find they are stuck on how things used to be and what used to work for design and marketing. But they are all the ones in positions of director and manager, so it's hard to tell them otherwise. I hope I am able to evolve and stay on top of current trends as I age in my career. Because the alternative is frustrating to work with!

  • by Peter Altschuler Fri Jan 5, 2018 via web

    What's the extent of your exposure to Boomers, Mark.Etting? Within one company, multiple companies, one industry, many?

    Your comment seems to reflect a subjective bias.

    I've worked with Boomers in creative fields, and they remain attuned to every development in technology and media. They may not handle coding or the mechanics themselves, but they thoroughly understand the processes and applications, capabilities and limitations just as well as hands-on practitioners do.

    What's frustrating from the other side is Xers and Millennials who have no historical perspective. They readily believe that the latest, greatest thing is actually brand new when it's really just an alternative application of a well-established approach.

    Personalization, for instance, or content marketing -- two practices that have defined B2B marketing for decades but are relatively recent in B2C. Podcasts pick up from tape cassette-based programs that date back decades. Online video reflects the current low cost of production, not a new use of the medium.

    Keep in mind, too, that some of the most innovative people in tech qualify as boomers -- Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Jonny Ive, James Dyson -- and people like J.K. Rowling and Steven Spielberg are boomers, as well. So maybe your experience is too specific to your individual circumstances.

  • by Mark.Etting Fri Jan 5, 2018 via web

    Peter, I'll absolutely admit that my comment completely reflects my subjective bias. It could also just be the particular industry/companies I have worked with and the individuals that end up there. Multiple industries, different companies, but always in-house marketing departments. Which I think makes a difference as well.

    I am thankful that my education in the field began with instructors insisting that we knew the history of our field. That has really helped.

    What I have experienced is that the Boomers I have worked with have less of a tendency to be a "jack of all trades" which is often needed with in-house departments for medium to small sized companies. If they came from a strictly graphic design background, they balk at having to do their own production or copy-writing. That could also just be a reflection of the field and its evolution within our economy, as one person is now expected to fill the need of multiple jobs.

    I definitely do not think Boomers bring nothing to the table as far as innovations in tech, your examples clearly show that. I have had frustrations with Art Directors treating digital fluid mobile designs like they are print designs because they have no experience in the latter and have not bothered to learn. That's probably a reflection of the companies I've worked for and the industries I've been in, not the whole creative field in general.

    Again, I can't make any assumptions about a whole generation of workers when my exposure is limited and specific. It's just simply been (unfortunately) my experience.

  • by Peter Altschuler Fri Jan 5, 2018 via web

    Mark.Etting, consider medicine or law or engineering for a moment. Would you like a proctologist to handle your cardiac surgery, a trademark attorney to work on your immigration case, or an electrical engineer to design your car's frame? My guess would be no.

    So why would you expect a designer to write copy or a writer to handle design? They're specialized disciplines.

    Of course, designers should be able to accommodate the flexibility of adaptive and responsive UIs on mobile devices and know their way around prepping files for multiple uses. Writers should master the fine points of SEO (despite Google's constant diddling with the algorithms) and email subject lines and be familiar with basic HTML.

    But to expect visual people to be writers and writers to be visual is a stretch. I've gotten Emmy nominations for animation and graphic design, but I'd never sell myself as a designer. I'm a copy-side CD with a keen visual sensibility. That's it.

    I use a very talented coder for websites, but his design sense is pedestrian at best (and he admits it). A designer I use gave up coding because it took too much time away from the thing she does best. People need to be played to their strengths. That's why Boston moved a pitcher to the outfield and placed him fourth in the batting order (but was stupid enough to sell him to New York... where that player -- Babe Ruth -- made baseball history).

  • by Jennifer Truitt Fri Jan 5, 2018 via web

    I am just glad that the survey did not leave Gen X off entirely!

    I actually chuckled at Peter's comment, "[that] They readily believe that the latest, greatest thing is actually brand new when it's really just an alternative application of a well-established approach." This has been a pet peeve of mine for at least 20 years.

  • by Mark.Etting Fri Jan 5, 2018 via web

    Peter, I guess I am not communicating what I mean very well. From my experience with in-house marketing departments for small to mid-sized companies in the midwest; most do not have designated copy-writers or production artists, or any number of very specialized jobs within the marketing field, you are expected to fill many job roles within your job description. The same person who designs ad concepts is expected to also do email marketing, social media marketing, and write the headline for the ads they design. If that's not the type of job they want, then they are free to leave. But, when your job duties call for you to wear many hats, and you sit complaining about the fact that you don't have a production artist for your design projects, it really just comes off as lazy and inflexible.

    And as an art director, reviewing both print and digital designs, you don't have to know HOW to do it, but you should at least know the basics of how digital design differs from print and that it is more fluid and responsive and often dependent on the end user. If you review all design work as if it is the same as the print standards you grew up with, that is a problem.

  • by Peter Altschuler Fri Jan 5, 2018 via web

    Mark.Etting, I'm not insensitive to your situation. Not at all. But in the timeless tradition of jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none, the singularly talented are sure to find an outlet for their skills in a place that will pay them to be specialists.

    Granted, the people who stand out will be the ones who have mastered their crafts in every way. Designers who think digital and print are the same, won't advance in the world as it is. Writers who can't leverage visuals to reduce their copy (or expand it to draw pictures with words) won't survive.

    Without making in-house seem inferior, most companies that have creative people on staff believe, in my own experience, that it's more cost-effective. Their output might not rival agency talent in Chicago or New York (or Portland or Richmond) but, hey, it's cheap.

    It's likely, too, I expect, that the CEOs in those companies think Marketing's a necessary evil. I had a client once who said, "The only thing a company like this needs is the people to make the products and the people to sell them." When his new product went nowhere until a marketing campaign put three million dollars in his pipeline in under a month, he was (grudgingly) grateful.

    The CEO, btw, was a boomer. But so was the person who created the campaign.