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Generational Conflict

Generational Conflict

Generational Conflict

Four different generations are represented in the workforce today, and their contact with one another at work results in conflict because of how each age forms perceptions of the others. Stereotypes, biases, and tensions that result from intergenerational perspectives can affect productivity and performance. Younger and older employees may clash, or there may be a more general conflict between two generations. Prejudices against one generation are the main cause of intergenerational conflict. The cultural, social, and economic divides between generations at work are generally what the term “intergenerational conflict” refers to. There are three types of conflict caused by generational differences at work: value-based, identity- and behaviour-based. Power and control, technology, generational disparities, and organizational culture are the main causes of generational conflict. Mediation, tearing down stereotypes, bringing generations together, effective communication, and highlighting the advantages of each generation are some of the conflict resolution techniques covered in the study. To effectively interact with employees of various generations, managers may need to employ various potential tactics, which are examined in this literature review.


First, mediation is essential for resolving conflict in working relationships, according to McKenzie (2015). The development of prejudices and judgments among different generations, particularly millennials and Generation X, leads to intergenerational conflict in the workplace. Generation X would be the boss and those in positions of authority in a perfect workplace. Millennials, who differ from Generation X in terms of work ethics and life perspectives, are on the front lines right now (Xiong & Wang, 2018).

According to the source, mediation is the go-to alternative dispute resolution technique for settling disagreements in working relationships. Conflict in the workplace is commonly attributed to poor interpersonal interactions as a source of stress (Messarra, 2014). By creating a neutral space, effective communication, and an organizational culture that destroys stereotypes and enhances interpersonal interactions, a mediator may bring together millennials and Gen X. Additionally, mediation aids the various generations in the workforce in expressing their expectations, according to Zhu et al.’s (2016) argument. Common ground is found that enables all generations to collaborate toward a common objective. The most common type of mediation is ADR. It is used in every organization since it is less expensive, helps mend relationships, and gives disputants more control over the resolution process.

Additionally, there are differences in work ethics and the importance of motivational sources in professional behaviour between millennials and older generations. According to Mahmoud et al. (2014), age disparities in the value placed on motivation and work ethics are another cause of generational conflict in the workplace. Organizations handle generational differences at work and ensure that all the multigenerational and diverse personnel communicate and work together to accomplish organizational objectives. According to Mahmoud and Reisel (2014), a company improves motivation, productivity, morale, and retention when bosses recognize employees’ requirements and consider each generation’s perspectives. According to Shelley André (2018), the millennial generation, regarded as digitally sophisticated, more educated, and ethnically diverse, is steadily taking over as the largest labour market segment. ON THE OTHER HAND, generation X and baby boomers are in a position of authority and tend to use traditional ways, which causes conflict and schism with the millennials. Millennials are driven by money and value engaging and difficult activities, a strong employer brand, and an environment that encourages creativity and innovation in the workplace.

Understanding and controlling intergenerational conflict in the workplace is another crucial factor. The generation gap and disparities between generations, particularly those in values, behaviours, and identity in achievement, image, and ego, are the main causes of conflict, according to Urick et al. (2017). Millennials see the older generation as being behind the times regarding technology and fashion. The older generation, in contrast, thinks that millennials are unreasonable and lack the moral principles and patience required for the job (Winter & Jackson, 2016). The management must create ways to destroy the preconceptions and attitudes that fuel intergenerational conflict to facilitate successful communication between all generations. According to Zizek and Cic (2017), each generation in the workplace exhibits distinct behaviour patterns, attitudes, expectations, routines, and motivational mechanisms. While this generational divide aids in business operations, it also necessitates balancing the needs of each generation to prevent productivity and efficiency from being harmed by any resulting conflict. Another interpersonal conflict at work is superior-subordinate conflict, which results from the disparity in attitudes, power, and behaviour between the two groups (Cucina et al., 2018). Millennials dislike being ordered around and yelled at work, leading to conflict, absenteeism, and a lack of job satisfaction, motivation, and productivity.

Discussing and assessing

ADR helps to mend connections between generations in the workplace and enhances interpersonal interactions. Workplace mediation is a practice that is helpful in both small and large workplace problems. The four generations that make up the modern workforce—the baby boomers, generation X, and millennials—differ in their behaviour patterns, sources of motivation, work ethics and values, and levels of job satisfaction. Mediation can resolve conflicts between superiors and subordinates and ensure both parties gain from increased output, inspiration, and job satisfaction. According to the Multidimensional Work Motivational Scale (MWMS) (Cucina et al., 2018), work motivation is the main source of conflict between generations in the workplace. Extrinsic, intrinsic, and ad motivation are a few of the numerous types of motivation. The management and organization must determine what drives each group to resolve conflicts at work with a particular generation.

Millennials today need a variety of factors in the workplace to feel motivated and satisfied at work. The conflict brought on by generational disparities in motivational systems can be eliminated by recognizing and inspiring each generation. Additionally, Winter & Jackson’s (2016) method demonstrates the need for organizations to investigate issues affecting young professionals by conducting an open-ended survey on their difficulties and potential solutions. Building an organizational culture that values equality and justice without prejudice or discrimination against any group is the first step in resolving conflicts in the workplace. The organization needs to improve its productivity, low morale, and lack of enthusiasm due to the many generations’ difficulty understanding at work and the absence of common ground.

In businesses where older generations hold positions of authority and younger generations work on the front lines, the generational divide is the biggest difficulty facing young professionals today. Conflict results from disparities in work ethics, practices, and perspectives. The millennial generation has grown up knowing how to work smarter, not harder, while the older generation cherishes face time and keeping set hours (Cucina et al., 2018).

Finding a solution to these difficulties and allowing the many generations to collaborate to accomplish a common objective would require balancing these conflicting differences. The technique and research design used in the paper by Xiong and Wang (2018) is based on measuring employees’ subjective appraisal bias concerning labour relations and employing Chinese participants.

The organization must use conflict management techniques since bias between employees from different generations causes difficulties in labour relations. The essay provides a global perspective on how to resolve conflicts in the workplace between two particular generations. The common thread between the articles and the main cause of conflict in the modern workplace is generational differences. The development of bias, preconceptions, and prejudices by multiple generations at work makes it challenging for various groups to collaborate because they need a better impression of how the other generation operates, thinks, and makes decisions (Winter & Jackson, 2016). According to management, integrative cooperation at work should be founded on the requirements of all generations and an effort to strike a balance that will bring them together. Even though generational differences are crucial to the business process, it is bad when they lead to conflict that reduces employee productivity and raises tensions.

Andre (2018) asserts that it is crucial to embrace generational diversity and that managers are responsible for minimizing and handling workplace friction brought on by these disparities. Intergenerational differences in nursing can cause friction and conflicts, especially when experienced nurses subject inexperienced nurses to their propensity for trial-by-fire techniques. Correctly identifying the generational element generating the disagreement is the answer to intergenerational workplace conflict. While millennials are accustomed to specific instructions and authorities looming over them, baby boomers dislike being micromanaged (Cucina et al., 2018). The first step in resolving and addressing the issue is to comprehend what is generating the generational conflict, highlight each generation’s advantages in the workplace, and give the appropriate tasks to the appropriate generation. For managers to create generation-specific initiatives, such as getting to know their staff, they need education and training. A baby boomer manager should be aware of the requirements of millennials and be knowledgeable about new advancements in technology use and working practices (McKenzie, 2015). On the other side, a Gen X manager should take the time to build a rapport of trust with older generations to prevent alienating them and creating conflict at work.


In conclusion, evaluating generational disparities and the causes of conflict is necessary for generational conflict resolution in the workplace. Differences in work ethics, motivational strategies, values, perceptions, and attitudes in today’s workplace are due to generational diversity and presence. Another source of conflict is the development of stereotypes, biases, and prejudices toward different generations. These factors make it difficult to communicate with others and harm output, morale, and job satisfaction.

All sources consulted for this essay include information about intergenerational conflict and solutions. The paper’s primary recommendations are to balance the needs of each age, distribute positions according to generational strength, destroy stereotypes, and establish strong intergenerational communication and an organizational culture that honours all generations.


Čič, Ž. V., & Žižek, S. Š. (2017). Intergenerational cooperation at the workplace from the management perspective. Naše gospodarstvo/Our economy, 63(3), 47-59.

Cucina, J. M., Byle, K. A., Martin, N. R., Peyton, S. T., & Gast, I. F. (2018). Generational differences in workplace attitudes and job satisfaction. Journal of Managerial Psychology.

Mahmoud, A. B., Reisel, W. D., Grigoriou, N., Fuxman, L., & Mohr, I. (2020). The reincarnation of work motivation: Millennials vs older generations. International Sociology, 0268580920912970.

McKenzie, D. M. (2015). The role of mediation in resolving workplace relationship conflict. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 39, 52-59.

Messarra, L. C. (2014). Conflict resolution styles and personality: The moderating effect of generation X and Y in a non-Western context Leila Canaan Messarra, Silva Karkoulian, Abdul-Nasser El-Kassar. International journal of productivity and performance management, 65(6), 792-810.

Shelley André, R. N. (2018). Embracing generational diversity: Reducing and managing workplace conflict. ORNAC Journal, 36(4), 13.

Urick, M. J., Hollensbe, E. C., Masterson, S. S., & Lyons, S. T. (2017). Understanding and managing intergenerational conflict: An examination of influences and strategies. Work, Aging and Retirement, 3(2), 166-185.

Winter, R. P., & Jackson, B. A. (2016). Work values preferences of Generation Y: performance relationship insights in the Australian Public Service. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 27(17), 1997-2015.

Xiong, W., & Wang, T. (2018). Labour relations and new generation employees. International Journal of Conflict Management.

Zhu, Y., Yang, H., & Bai, G. (2016). Effect of superior–subordinate intergenerational conflict on job performance of new generation employees. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 44(9), 1499-1513.


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Have you observed or personally experienced generational conflict?

Generational Conflict

Generational Conflict

What arguments or accusations have you heard, and in what situations do you think these conflicts usually arise? Who, if anyone, might profit from generational conflict and the sense that one’s generation is under attack? Consider differences in social, religious, or political beliefs or responses to major events such as a pandemic.

Be sure to respond to at least one of your classmates’ posts.

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