The Importance of Multi-Generational Workforces & How It Can Work For MeMaddie McKay
Good talent will prove ageless and age-inclusive companies stand to benefit from tapping into the multi-generational workforce now and for the future. Every generation has talented, smart, skilled and hard-working individuals who are ready to take the next step in their career. Some forward-thinking companies are using creative techniques to attract and retain top talent from all age ranges, such as crafting flexible benefits to meet everyone’s needs, discovering ways for different generations to share intelligence and information, and even moulding new career paths that can work for any talented professional at any age. However, these aren’t normal occurrences for many organizations, and if businesses want to stay relevant and equipped for the future, they need to realize whether old, young or somewhere in the middle, quality work is ageless.
It’s a new horizon for age diversity as 89% of talent professionals agree that having a multi-generational workforce makes a company more successful. Jason Dorsey, a generational expert and author, said: “Organizations that take the time to break through stereotypes and myths can create tremendous trust, teamwork, communication, and openness that unlock the potential of every generation.” Being more open and accepting of hiring from all generations is key, but it’s also a good idea to look for the benefits of hiring members of each generation and how they can all work together to strengthen and grow your business for decades to come. The world is constantly changing, and new generations will be coming and going from the workforce for as long as businesses exist, so take the time now to learn about how a multi-generational workforce can work for you.
The lines between where generations lie can be a bit confusing so for the purpose of this article, Generation Z is anyone between 7 to 22, Millennials are anyone from 23 to 38, Generation X is 39 to 54 and Baby Boomers range in age from 55 to 73. Keep in mind these are North American standards and other countries have different specific sets of generations that apply uniquely to their country, business and culture.
Currently, the workforce is comprised of about 10% Gen-Z, a significant 40% Millennials, 33% Gen-X and finally 15% Baby Boomers. Millennials and Gen-X make up the bulk of the current workforce with Gen-Z and Baby Boomer taking up little space at the start and end of their careers. However, Gen-Z is slowly starting to grow and take their places in the workforce as older generations, like Baby Boomers, start to move on to retirement.
Different Skill Sets
These changes are important to note as each generation has different sets of skill strengths that are more in some generations than others. Gen-Z excels at Python, Cascading Style Sheets, and Adobe Premiere Pro. Additionally, Millennials shine in Adobe Photoshop, Data Analysis and AutoCAD. You might have noticed that these skills are directly related to technology or software, but when looking at older generations, their top skill sets are drastically different. Gen-X dominates when it comes to sales management, new business development and program management. Finally, Baby Boomers hold the highest skills in nursing, residential homes and investment properties. While all these skill sets are very different, research shows that all these different generations are still investing time to pick up new skills. This means that having a multi-generational workforce can provide a greater range of skills and abilities for your business, especially with their eagerness to continue to learn new skills.
Inspirations and Priorities
Just as all the different generations have varying skill sets, they also have different inspirations and priorities that push them, both inside and outside of work. While all generations value an inspirational work culture, Baby Boomers value it the most at 45%. They also value a company with a purposeful mission higher than any other generation, at 32%. When it comes to the youngest of these four generations, they value investment in employee training more than any other generation does at 36%. Most generations rank inspirational culture, purposeful mission and investment in training as important when considering a new job, with inspirational culture leading the pack. Having an inspirational culture and colleagues is a big point for every generation and having a multi-generational company culture can increase that, leading to greater top talent recruitment, development and hiring across the board.
When it comes to recruitment, we always want the best of the best brought into our companies. Looking ahead 5 years, talent professionals plan on focusing their talent recruitment efforts towards the younger generation with a 56% focus on Gen-Z, 73% on Millennials, 35% Gen-X and only 10% on Baby Boomers, as they move closer to retirement. 56% of companies studied say they have recently introduced and updated policies for greater appeal to a multi-generational workforce and labour market. When it comes to the big difference in recruiting numbers between generations, this can also relate to the fact that Gen-Z and Millennials make up about half of the global population, however, some businesses have tapped into the hidden gem of older workers who often have valuable skills and experience. BIG companies like CVS Health, Pfizer and Hewlett Packard are launching initiatives like “returnships” to tap into the wisdom present in the older workforce. As age expectancies increase, so does the amount of time people stay in the workforce, making “longevity strategies”, that seek older employees who are looking for engaging and purposeful work later in life. This is a great opportunity for businesses to gain a seasoned professional with a strong work ethic.
Retaining talent is a key challenge in talent development, and companies plan on using their retention efforts relatively evenly over the four generations for the next 5 years, with Gen-Z at the bottom and Gen-X at the top. 25% plan to focus on retaining the Gen-Z talent, 56% plan to focus on Millennials, 60% on Gen-X and 36% on Baby Boomers. This is because most Baby Boomers are dialling down their careers while Gen-Z is just jumping into them, leaving Gen-X and Millennials in the thick of their career ventures and a prime group to retain as new leaders emerge through shifting workforce dynamics. When it comes to retaining these generations, each generation needs different incentives to stick with a job or a company. Millennials value compensation, benefits, advancement and challenge as key factors with staying power. Gen-X values challenge, compensation, benefits and advancement. Finally, Baby Boomers seek challenges, a better fit for skills and interests and making an impact as staying factors at their job. While Gen-X and Millennials have similar values, Baby Boomers stray from them with not a mention of compensation or benefits as a top-three factor they consider when sticking with a company.
It probably isn’t a surprise that most often tenure increases with experience, the longer an employee has worked for a company the more likely they are to climb the ladder and find their happy place where they are satisfied overall and not looking to change jobs, switch roles or look for a new employer. Looking at the generations, Baby Boomers stay with a company at an average of 18% longer than other employees, while Gen-X stays for 22% longer, giving them a tenure that is about twice the length of your average Millennial employee. Gen-X is the generation with the highest level of retention stability while Gen-Z is more often working contract, short terms or part-time roles due to their young age and a growing “gig economy” that offers movement and flexibility to the younger generation coming up, with less stable full-time positions.
Make Them Stay; Keep Them Happy
Finally, when it comes to keeping these generations happy, its important to focus on specific sticky spots that can prevent higher levels of retention. Overall, leaders need to promote greater understanding of generational contrasts to please employees from all generations. The top three areas where managing a multi-generational workforce can be difficult is due to 69% in management style, 68% in work-life balance expectations and 63% with communication style. These are “danger zones” when it comes to working with a diverse company spread, as the younger and older generations have very different expectations when it comes to communication, management and work-life balance. Younger generations expect a more relaxed and open communication management style with a good work-life balance, and most communication is done through some form of tech. Older generations tend to be at the opposite end and don’t mind putting work above their personal lives, communicating in person and having a stricter more rule-bound management type.
Despite the issues that can arise from a multi-generational workforce, following these 5 tips can help you keep all of your employees happy at any age: 1) staying open-minded 2) seeking wisdom all over 3) realizing that everyone has a desire for their work to be important no matter they’re age 4) promoting social interactions amongst different generations in a more casual environment 5) creating safety for all employees to share their knowledge at any age.
Successful businesses like Humana, Estee Lauder and Virgin Australia have taken full advantage of this change in the workplace by being a diverse, inclusive and successful multi-generational company, and now it is your turn to increase your organizational development by adopting these future-thinking practices.
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Lobosco, M. (2020, January 22). 4 Trends Changing the Way You Hire and Retain Talent in 2020. Retrieved from https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/trends-and-research/2020/global-talent-trends-2020