The young adults of the World War II years quietly came of age during a time when the future was uncertain and the present bleak. In 1951, Time ran a cover article describing the generation as, “waiting for the hand of fate to fall on its shoulders, meanwhile working fairly hard and saying almost nothing…It does not issue manifestos, make speeches or carry posters.”
Today Pre-Boomers — also commonly known as Silents, Veterans, Traditionalists and Matures — make up roughly 8 percent of the U.S. workforce, where the sense of geographical loyalty they were taught as children is reflected in the loyalty they exhibit to their employers.
They are also known for placing an extraordinarily high value on hard work, respect for authority and the notion of business before pleasure–likely a result of being raised by parents who lived through and/or fought in World War I. Over the years their work style has been described as stoic, extremely focused, economical and conservative. Unlike many of their successors, Pre-Boomers generally prefer communication that is relatively formal and precise, for example.
Waste Not, Want Not
Having observed the growth of the federal government as social security programs created jobs and safety nets for those in need, Pre-Boomers display a level of financial awareness that has yet to be matched by any other generation. In the labor force, this often translates to a heightened sense of frugality and sacrifice for the good of the organization.
In light of the Great Depression and the resulting 17% unemployment rate, Pre-Boomers as employees also feel they are fortunate to have a job, rather than the other way around. They are motivated by a stability, respect, and the opportunity to do their job well.
In the next part of this series, we’ll take a look at some of the tools and trends that arose during the onset of their time in the office.
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