Different Generations, Same Ideals

What Workers of All Ages Value in their Jobs

Part 1


Is the generational divide real? While many may assume so, our research reveals that the answer is, well, not really. Although cultural trends, habits, or politics may set different age groups apart, all of those matter less when it comes to their outlook on work and leadership.

As a society, we often exhaust ourselves trying to find ways we are similar to some groups and different from others. This is especially true when it comes to generations, as we ascribe a broad set of traits and values to individuals based solely on the year they were born. How often have we heard, thought, or said something like:

Gen Z​ are a bunch of special snowflakes.

Millennials​ are entitled and narcissistic.

Gen X​ is cynical and full of slackers.

Boomers​ love work above all else and think they understand technology but don’t.

But these generational stereotypes are untrue. In fact, there is strong alignment across generations about what matters to them at work and in leadership. The similarities ranged from valuing personal well-being and stability to wanting leaders who listen and empower employees at all levels. What differs is how each generation defines and achieves these desires. ​ ​

That is not to say that each generation agrees on everything. There are several generational gaps we examine throughout this report, shedding light on key aspects of how people feel, see, and navigate their professional lives and what they expect from the workplace and its leaders. The Beyoncé song “Break My Soul”—released in June 2022, after which it became the anthem​ for the Great Resignation—hints at these gaps:

Now I just fell in love

And I just quit my job

I’m gonna find new drive

Damn they work me so damn hard

Work by nine

Then off past five

And they work my nerves

That’s why I cannot sleep at night


I am looking for a new foundation, yeah.

We believe this song can serve another purpose — as a broader appeal from individuals of every generation for more human, compassionate leadership and a workplace that brings people together rather than pitting them against each other for promotions and development opportunities.


In April 2022, Egon Zehnder and Kearney surveyed 8,181 people globally to find out where divisions exist among generations and how each generation can help close those divides. Interviews were conducted across a range of industries, company sizes, and organizational levels—from entry-level to C-suite—and also includes responses from students.





Gen Z (birth in 1997 or after)
Younger Millennials(1988 to 1996)
Older Millennials(1978 to 1987)
Gen X​ (1965 to 1977)
Boomers​ (1957 to 1964)



Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, United Kingdom, United States