Characteristics of the Silent Generation

Born between 1927 and 1945, The Silent Generation, also known as Traditionalists, tend to be in their 60s, 70s, and even 80s. Most Traditionalists are retired, but those that are still working seem to be largely aging partners, managers, or senior support staff.

They work hard. Raised by turn-of-the-century farmers, this generation brought a strong work ethic into the factories of industrialized society. They grew up during lean times and consider work a privilege. Their common belief is that hard work and grueling hours are the only way to success.

They are loyal. Unlike the “entitled” Generation Y and Generation X, many Traditionalists worked for the same employer their entire life and are less likely to change jobs to advance their careers. They are also loyal to their country.

They have respect. The Silent Generation was raised to respect authority. They are excellent team players and generally don’t rock the boat or create conflict in the workplace.

Not technologically advanced. It’s not surprising that Traditionalists are slow to change their work habits. Most are not as technologically adept as the younger generations.

They value tradition. This generation values traditional morals and support conformity and consistency. They respect the chain of command and prefer in-person interactions to online and web-based exchanges.

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Characteristics of the Silent Generation
  • The Silent Generation is thrifty. …
  • The Silent Generation is respectful. …
  • The Silent Generation is loyal. …
  • The Silent Generation is determined.

What is the Silent Generation?

Who is the Silent Generation?

Many of the professionals in the Silent Generation are at least partly retired. If they are still employed, they often do so for mental stimulation, public interaction or extra spending money rather than for a primary source of earned income. Understanding these characteristics can help facilitate agreeable workplace relationships.

Silent Generation characteristics

1. Traditional values

Cultural and social forces emphasized values such as hard work, loyalty and thriftiness when the Silent Generation was coming of age. This upbringing instilled a sense of civic values in this generation. Their firsthand perspective of WWII and the Great Depression contributed to a general sense of patriotic loyalty and desire for economic comfort.

These qualities can be valuable to a team because they are likely to apply their traditional values of hard work, which promotes productivity, quality work, loyalty and less turnover in the workplace today.

2. Financial prudence

Because of their experiences with the financial struggles of the Great Depression, the Silent Generation often handles money matters with prudence and discretion. For example, they often repair an item before replacing it, both at home and in the workplace. Their frugality can be an asset to teams looking to optimize their budget or cut costs.

3. Interpersonal respect

Many people of the Silent Generation were taught to show respect to others by practicing courtesy and deference to authority. They are often known for developing positive relationships with colleagues and clients alike. These interpersonal skills can be valuable in the workplace because they can provide balance and perspective to interpersonal relationships. For this reason, members of the Silent Generation can also be valuable in public-facing roles, such as customer service.

4. Determination

The hardships of WWII and the Great Depression instilled a sense of determination in many members of the Silent Generation. They often still choose to persevere in the face of adversity, large or small. This characteristic can be of significant benefit in the workplace because they are unlikely to give up when challenges arise as part of their job functions.

5. Resilience

Members of the Silent Generation are also resilient when they experience challenges because they often successfully rebound in ways that reflect growth and learning throughout life. This quality builds on perseverance by providing valuable flexibility as well. Their resilience can be of particular use in industries that fluctuate with market pressure, such as construction or fuels, because they may be more likely to adapt to changing circumstances.

6. Work ethic

Part of the Silent Generations characteristic determination is a strong work ethic that includes pursuing tasks until they are completed well and working as hard as needed to get a job done. As a result of the social circumstances of these individuals upbringing, their work ethic can be valuable to employers across many industries that value consistency, hard work and dependability.

7. Analog sensibilities

The Silent Generation lived much of their lives before technology, such as before the advent of computers and the internet. As a result, many prefer to communicate face-to-face and may enjoy working in a physical location rather than remotely. Their analog-first experiences can benefit an employer when they need traditional, physical expertise. These preferences can also provide a pleasant balance to a tech-heavy workplace environment.

8. Self-sacrifice

Another result of the Silent Generations formative experiences is their willingness to make sacrifices for causes they believe in. Many members of this generation made great personal sacrifices during WWII and the Great Depression, and these tendencies may carry over into their work style today. This willingness to sacrifice for a worthy cause can be important in todays work environment, especially in the nonprofit and health care sectors.

9. Sense of fairness

Many members of the Silent Generation fought for their principles early in life, especially in the context of WWII, and the tendency to seek fairness and justice is often still a hallmark of this generation in the workplace. This sense of fairness can be an asset in their careers, both in matters of personnel and when employees of this generation work with clients and customers. For example, a member of the Silent Generation may strive to provide the highest quality work because they know a client paid a certain price expecting a certain level of quality.

10. Flexible scheduling

It is common for those in the Silent Generation to be completely or mostly retired. Many seek employment for reasons other than a full-time wage. Matters of scheduling therefore can be more flexible, which can be useful for employers with small gaps in their operations or room for only part-time or temporary scheduling.

11. “Builder” traits

The Silent Generation is also sometimes referred to as “the builder generation” because of their role in rebuilding the United States economy after the Great Depression. This generation is likely to apply a mindset of growth to their job as well, which can be a benefit in any workplace that values personal employee development.

FAQ

What do the Silent Generation believe?

Raised in a paternalistic environment, the silent generation was taught to respect authority. Conformity and conservatism are prized. They tend to be good team players. They generally don’t ruffle feathers or initiate conflict in the workplace, and they like to feel needed.

What made the Silent Generation so great?

The Silent Generation refers to people who were born between 1925 and 1945. There are several theories as to where the label ‘Silent Generation’ originated. The children who grew up during this time worked very hard and kept quiet. It was commonly understood that children should be seen and not heard.

What can we learn from the Silent Generation?

Unlike the previous generation who had fought for “changing the system,” the Silent Generation were about “working within the system.” They did this by keeping their heads down and working hard, thus earning themselves the “silent” label. Their attitudes leaned toward not being risk-takers and playing it safe.

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