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It's easy to make a list of the events, pop culture, and economic swings each generation experienced. Boomers, for example, came of age during the turbulent 1960s, and iGen grew up in a world shaped by terrorism. But that doesn't tell you much about who they really are. It’s more important to know how generations really differ in terms of personality traits, attitudes, and behavior, and what that means for organizations.

In the era of evidence-based management, that means verifiable data.

iGen Consulting has that data, drawn from the responses of 11 million people about everything from basic personality to attitudes toward work. These data were collected across time, allowing us to determine which changes are due to generation which to age (more on that here). This database allows us to separate fact from fiction in common generational perceptions – for example, are Millennials/GenY really more interested in work-life balance and in helping people? Which generation relates to others the best, and which is the most focused on salary?

Understanding the implications of these differences is also important. Are the generational differences big enough to matter? What do these differences mean in the workplace for recruiting, retaining, and managing an inter-generational workforce? How does each generation prefer to communicate? Do young people now need to be taught differently?