Millennials poised to take over the workplace

We've hit an extraordinary balance in the workforce when it comes to age.

Three generations currently split the workplace almost evenly, with baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials each representing approximately a third, according to a recent poll by Gallup.

"It's the first time that we've seen this kind of age diversity," says Carolyn Goerner, clinical professor of management in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.

There's a good chance you're seeing that age group spread at your place of work.

You may even be experiencing some conflict among generations in the workplace.

Goerner says that's because each generation has different world views and experiences that shape their attitude about work, causing big differences in the workplace environment.

Baby boomers —  those born from 1946 to 1964 —  have been the dominant generation for more than three decades.

Carolyn Goerner

Carolyn Goerner

They've been reluctant to retire and are fading out of the workforce more slowly than previous generations.

Those from Generation X, 1965 to 1979, are now fully in the workforce and will be for quite some time —  at least another 25 to 30 years.

About half of boomers don't expect to retire until they're 66 or older, and the youngest of the group are just 50. (Check out our story on why baby boomers are pushing retirement back.)

The youngest millennials — anyone born from 1980 to 1996 — are 18 this year and will be entering the labor force in large numbers for years to come.

(Of course, there's still a small percentage — 4% — of older folks in the workforce, those born between 1900 and 1945 and referred to as "traditionalists," but that percentage will fall quickly as the youngest of the group are 69 this year.)

workplace generations

So what will happen over the next five to 10 years as the boomers inevitably cede their top-dog role in America's offices and factories?

Millennials will become the dominant generation because there are more of them than Gen Xers (something like 74 million vs. 62 million).

As millennials take over, Goerner thinks we'll see more of a focus on project management and more of the idea that a project has a timeline.

One of the hallmarks of millennials, she notes, is that once they do a project, they're done with it. As a result, work could become more segmented.

Indeed, as the workplace changes and as baby boomers near the end of their careers, millennials still have plenty of time on their side. And that's great for retirement planning.

Even if you're one of the oldest in the millennial generation, it's possible to build a sizable nest egg.

Take a look at our advice on how to start saving in your 30s .

Mitch Strohm on Google Plus.

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