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Evolution of HR Policies from Generation X to Generation Z: Analytical Essay

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The world’s workforce comprises of people belonging to different generations starting with generation x being born in the 1980s, hard-working and committed individuals to the current generation z which is the youngest, born in the age of technology, self-directed and free-spirited individuals. We shall be considering generations x, y, and z in this study since they make up today’s major portion of the workforce. This diverse workforce, therefore, becomes the determining factor for organizational performance therefore their perspective towards HR policies will decide their performance and commitment level towards the organization. This research paper will explain the evolution of HR policies from generation x to z and how the three generations differ from each other.


The firm’s performance is highly affected by the impact of HR policies in the field of human resources and industrial relations. HR policies is a collective term for the responsibility towards the workforce of the organization keeping in mind the organizational goals. HR policies are used as guidelines to manage people in various aspects of which the core responsibilities are

  • Procurement (recruitment, selection, talent acquisition, induction, orientation)
  • Managing the workforce (compensation, performance management, wellbeing and safety, employee engagement, management information systems (MIS)).
  • Exit management (employee layoff, retirement, and downsizing).

The performance of an organization is highly affected by HR policies and has been a hot topic for research by professionals in the field of human resources. It has been argued that an effective HR policy covering procurement, performance management, compensation management, high employee engagement, and training can prove to be an important tool to increase workforce knowledge, capabilities, motivation, and skills. HR policies are used for the retention of good quality employees and the removal of non-performers from the organization. Though the hr policies and practices are intended to vary from one country to another and from one employee to another and are also influenced by the type of industry in which it is being used. An important relationship is shared between HR policies, organizations, and employees to cope with the changing environment and competition prevailing in the outside world.

One of the most important characteristics of an organizational workforce is its diversity. The workforce is highly diversified in age comprising of different generations working together with different needs and values. Generation x and y make the major portion of the entire workforce while the youngest generation z is about to enter into labor work and will ultimately replace the previous generations for many decades. The ultimate sync amongst these generations is what keeps an organization running smoothly despite of different mindsets and personalities. Generation x is characterized by the people who were born between 1965 -1980. The workers of this generation were not as loyal as their predecessors. They were independent and self-directed. The successor to them were Generation Y also known as millennials characterized as independent and looking for continuous feedback and clear goals and objectives. Then the latest Generation Z arrived into the world between 1997 to 2010 being the youngest, seeking freedom and full autonomy and is about to enter into the workforce. (Corey Pires) .All these generations bear different kinds of roles and responsibilities towards their families and society in such cases it is difficult for the organization to devise hr policies that are friendly for all. In such a situation productivity measures, work structure, and organizational culture need intense study and change. The time has come that the organization realizes that its workforce is aging and getting older and acknowledge the fact that the variations in the workforce and their perception towards the HR policies can become a major concern in coming time. To curb these differences and make these generations work as team effective policies need to be formulated in such a way that it is employee friendly for all generations.

Literature Review

HR policies are well-versed statements that help the organization to manage their workforce. Today’s organization consists of a culturally and generationally diverse workforce who have their own interests, needs, and values. HR policies cover almost all the aspects related with employees right from procurement till their separation from the organization. These policies help the organization to make maximum use of the workforce to achieve goals while help employees (Ogedegbe 2014) to secure a better life and career. The diversity in the employees can be viewed as a positive aspect of labour but can be conflicting since they differ in their personalities and thought processes. In today’s scenario, the workforce majorly comprises of three generations – Generation x, generation y, and generation z.

Characteristics of generations-

Generation x

The people were born between 1965 and 1980 and have a different attitude towards work from their ancestors. They had a difference in opinion and did not trust in ways of working of their parents. Therefore they tried to mend their ways and explored other means than the traditional working styles. This generation was skeptical and questioned the traditional working styles and welcomed change, unlike their previous generation which never questioned and went on working in the same pattern for years. They had a strong desire for work-life balance and career growth opportunities.

Generation Y

Generation Y is also known as millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. They form the major part of the workforce. They have been characterized as self-confident individuals, independent, and goal-oriented. Though the media created a negative image of this generation as self-centered and lazy kids. This generation is tech savvy which have made easier for them for adapting to major technological change than the previous generation. They seek managers who respect their ideologies of freedom and give them regular feedback (Jeni and Karen,2007).

Generation z

Generation z is the youngest of all being born during 1997 to 2010 in the age when technology entered into the lives of the common man. Generation z differs from generations x and y by several factors entrepreneurial, autonomy, motivation, and in-person communication. The evolution of previous generations from being traditional to practice autonomy has help in shaping the behavioral traits of this generation. This is the youngest blood who’s a very small percentage is in the industry while the rest are about to enter. (Wiedmer,2016)

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It is forecasted that they will become one of the most powerful generations of all time. They seek full autonomy in their work and cannot tolerate monotony. The current workforce is majorly generation x and y individuals with very less of generation z. Generation z being born in the era of technology they feel more attracted towards it. Technology is in their blood and they have grown to use the maximum of it, therefore technology has also played a major role in developing these induvial and they are better able to cope with the complex environment.

It is very much evident that the people of all three generations differ in their needs, values, and personalities. These generational differences are posing challenges for human resource specialists and managers and they are exploring how to manage and work with people from different generations in the workplace and how her policies can make an impact on these generations so that they can work as a team towards achieving organizational goals.

A comparative study of generations x y and z is as follows-

  1. Generation x
  2. Generation y
  3. Generation z
  • Birth year
  1. 1965-1980
  2. 1981-1996
  3. 1997-2010
  • Characteristics
  1. Independent, disciplined, traditional
  2. Confident, highly educated, goal-oriented
  3. Autonomy, freedom of work, enthusiasm, open-mindedness
  • Importance
  1. Highly experienced, good managers
  2. Making a major portion of the workforce, technologically sound
  3. Fresh blood, energetic, zeal to prove themselves

A study by Conway (2004) established a relationship between HR practices and commitment level and how it varies with age of the employees. He suggested that the older age group was more committed towards organization than the younger generation. It was an important finding since it can reveal the possible causes and solutions for retaining younger employees. The old workers who were highly committed were more satisfied with job security (Finegold et al. 2002). A theory was proposed by Higgins (1997) that there are majorly two types of focuses, one being a promotion focus involving aspirations and accomplishments and the other being a prevention focus involving responsibility and safety. Later Freund (2006) concluded that the promotion focus was seen in young employees while the prevention focus was more prominent in old employees. Motives related to work and career change with the age of the employee so it can be said that the impact of HR policies can also vary with age (Kooij et al., 2011).

Research Methodology

The research was done with the help of secondary data collected from various research papers and then extensively studied.

Analysis and Findings

The time has arrived where generation x has taken over the senior positions in the organization. Though not born in the age of technology they seem to fit with the fast-changing technological advances as they have witnessed the major ups and down in the technological field. This generation has been in the industry for more than 25 years and has the ultimate pool of rich experience that can train young individuals. While generation y forms the major part of the current workforce and is enthusiastic to become future leaders and have high aspirations for the future. Then there is generation z which is highly energetic and young blood filled with determination to prove themselves, though they have a different mindset and thought process but with sincere attempts, this generation can work well with their predecessor generation x. An experienced generation can carve a route towards organizational success with the young generations along with building their future as well.

As the difference lies within the core values of these generations so there is always a chance of conflict in opinion, then it is the time where strategists have to come up with a common solution that can be beneficial for the entire workforce. There can be many instances where employees of different generations can end up in conflicts. For example generation, x people have a traditional approach towards work policy while employees of generation y and z expect to work on their own terms and conditions at this point the policymakers are expected to devise such solutions which can help in achieving the task completion which is the ultimate goal. Working conditions, work-life balance, work location, and time flexibility are some of the domains where HR policies can be formulated keeping in mind workforce diversity. As in the coming time generation, z will be in their prime phases so it is necessary for the organization to look after the procurement of generation z employees. Generation z is marked as the intense technology users therefore this technology can be used for their recruitment by connecting to them through internet technology and social media. Retention of generation z employees can be a hassle since they want full autonomy that is the reason they can be founded as freelancers and contract-based employees. With the evolution of generations, there has been a major change in HR trends. Health and safety were the prime benefits that were given to the employees but the current trend has tremendously changed giving more autonomy to the employee-related work location and timings. The flexible work time policy can be very helpful in retaining the current generation of employees. The primitive HR policies never considered curbing stress during working hours but stress management can become a new topic of research. Organizations back then gave a hike of a fixed percentage of salary with limited means of extra income. But with policies of perks and incentives they can motivate current employees to stay longer in the organization and thereby increasing their loyalty. Learning organization is a concept where an organization and its employees are open to learning. This can help employees to sharpen their skills and enhance their level of knowledge. By introducing new techniques of learning such as on-job training, rotational jobs, conferences and seminars can give an opportunity to both generations y and z to explore more of their inner skills and capabilities. These little changes in policy can actually make big difference in the coming future.


HR policies are meant not only for the smooth functioning of the organization but also for the well-being of the employees as well. Policies are formulated in such a way that can cater the needs of the organization and can be molded as and when required. The labor market is facing a transition phase where the focus is being shifted from generation x and y to generation z. The new talent is emerging and getting ready to step into the industry and will rule it for several decades. The organization must gear itself for this transition and make policies that are flexible enough to keep up with the pace of changing environment.


  1. Ogedegbe, R.J.(2014). Achieving Organisational Objectives through Human Resource Management Practices. Eur. J. Bus. Manag. , 6(16),1-6.
  2. McIntosh, J., McRitchie, K. (2007). From the Silent Generation to Generation X, Y and Z: Strategies for Managing the Generation Mix, 240-246.
  3. Wiedmer, T.(2016). Generations Do Differ: Best Practices In Leading Traditionalists, Boomers, And Generations X, Y, And Z. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin. 82.1 (2016): 51-58.
  4. Conway, E. (2004). Relating career stage to attitudes towards HR practices and commitment: Evidence of interaction effects. Eur. J. W. Org. Psych., 13, 417–446.
  5. Finegold, D., Mohrman, S., & Spreitzer, G. M. (2002). Age effects on the predictors of technical workers’ commitment and willingness to turnover. J. Org. Behav., 23, 655–674.
  6. Higgins, E. T. (1997). Beyond pleasure and pain. Am. Psych., 52, 1280–1300.
  7. Freund, A. M. (2006). Age-differential motivational consequences of optimization versus compensation focus in younger and older adults. Psych. Aging, 21, 240–252.
  8. Kooij, D.T.A.M., De Lange, A.H., Jansen, P.G.W., Kanfer, R. and Dikkers, J.S.E. (2011). ‘Age and work-related motives: results of a meta-analysis’. J. Org. Behav., 32: 2, 197– 225.

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