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Sean T. Lyons and Joshua E. LeBlanc

Research and popular literature concerning generational differences in the workplace abounds, but much of it lacks a clear theoretical and/or empirical basis. The result is a body of recommendations that are ill-conceived at best and at worst perpetuate stereotypes and create potential for workplace conflict. We contend that generation is a meaningful and important phenomenon in contemporary workplaces, but that it must be viewed from the perspective of identity, rather than merely demographics. We outline a means of understanding generation as a form of social identity and discuss the implications of this approach for stereotype reduction, inter-generational conflict and generational awareness in general. We conclude with recommendations for enhancing psychological well-being in the workplace through greater understanding and empathy of generational identity.

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Sean T. Lyons, Eddy S. Ng and Linda Schweitzer