11 Common Characteristics of the Silent Generation

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 7, 2022 | Published January 13, 2021

Updated June 7, 2022

Published January 13, 2021

Generational differences can help diversify the workplace and bring a variety of perspectives to an employment roster. The demographic group known as the Silent Generation for those born between 1928 and 1945, is one such example. Although each member of the Silent Generation is unique, their shared experiences contribute to traits they often share.

In this article, we explain the definition of the Silent Generation and discuss common characteristics that many share.

Related: Your Guide To Generations in the Workplace

Who is the Silent Generation?

The Silent Generation, also known as "Radio Babies" or "Traditionalists," includes people who were born between 1928 and 1945 and lived through World War II and the Great Depression, according to FamilySearch. These challenging experiences shaped many of the generation's attitudes toward the workplace.

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.

Related: All About the "Silent" Generation

Silent Generation characteristics

If you want to know more about this generation in the workforce, here are some characteristics many members of the Silent Generation share:

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.

Related: What You Should Know When Working With the Silent Generation

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 Generation's 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 Generation's 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 today's 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.

Browse more articles