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The generation game: Concepts of Baby-Boomer, Gen X and Gen Y can create more heat than light

Uracha Chatrakul Na Ayudhya (Department of Leadership, Work and Organizations, Middlesex University Business School, London, United Kingdom.)

Human Resource Management International Digest

ISSN: 0967-0734

Article publication date: 13 July 2015




Explores the limited value of concepts such as Baby-Boomer, Generation X (Gen X) and Generation Y (Gen Y) and advances the view that life course is more valuable.


Examines how young adults in Britain, born between 1975 and 1982, conceptualized the notion of work-life balance as they were about to leave university and enter full-time paid employment.


Reveals that the notion of individual choice strongly underpins young adults’ conceptualization of work-life balance and expectations of work-life balance support; while young British and Asian adults largely considered it to be a matter of individual choice, there were variations in their preferences for how to prioritize their impending employment and personal lives; and four emerging patterns of work-life balance orientation preferences were found – balancer, careerist, career-sacrificer and integrator.

Practical implications

Provides support for the argument that the work-life balance perceptions of young adults who would belong to the so-called Gen Y cannot be generalized and simplified as being either work-centric or life-centric. The picture is a lot more complex given the diversity within this group of young adults.

Social implications

Highlights how, instead of looking for generational differences (or age-related differences) which can be divisive, it is more useful to look at the issue of multi-generations in a broader way.


By using a life-course approach instead of a generational approach, is able to take into account how past transitions have shaped the way work-life balance was discussed by the young adults and how anticipated future transitions were expected by the young adults to change their needs and therefore expectations of employer and government support.



Chatrakul Na Ayudhya, U. (2015), "The generation game: Concepts of Baby-Boomer, Gen X and Gen Y can create more heat than light", Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 23 No. 5, pp. 29-32.



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