From grey hair to chinos and TikTok, there are currently more generations working together then before. In fact, today there are 4 generations of employees working together. Move over Millennials, Baby Boomers and Gen X, because Generation Z workers are entering the workforce.
In the past, when there were only one or two generations working together, it was more straight forward to understand how to keep employees motivated. Now, employers are faced with 4 different sets of realities, perceptions and expectations. If you want an engaged workforce, it is important to understand the needs of each of these groups separately.
What Differentiates the Generations in the Workplace?
- Ranging from 57 to 64 years old and born between 1946 and 1964, these are your oldest employees. Many of them are now entering their retirement stage.
- They grew up in an era with limited technological advancement and can prefer face to face contact or a phone call over emails and texts. They are slower to adopt to new technologies and are less likely to use social media.
- This group of people believe that you live to work, not the other way around. They often stay at the same company or in the same role for many years.
- They find motivation in working hard and receiving a regular paycheck for the efforts they put in.
- Ranging from 40 to 55 years old and born between 1965 and 1980, this group of people entered a workforce that was stable with excitement for career growth as their long service counterparts prepared for retirement.
- They grew up during the beginning of some major technological advances such as the personal computer, mobile phones and the internet.
- They look for more than just a job. They search for a career that will keep them engaged their whole life.
- This group of people seek a strong work life balance. They are willing to switch employers a couple of times within each decade.
- They work to live and believe in the work hard, play hard approach.
- They value a good benefit plan, educational re-imbursements and flexible work schedules.
- Ranging from 20 to 40 years old and born between 1980 and 2000, this group of people have lived through a lot of technological change in a small amount of time.
- They often enter the workforce with very high student debt and initial high expectations.
- They value balance, wellness and environment sustainability.
- They look for flexibility in their workplace.
- Their job must be meaningful for them. Work is more than just about pay.
- They need a challenge and frequent feedback to stay engaged and motivated at work.
- They crave mentorship and the chance to invest in their development.
- Ranging from 8 to 23 years old and born between 1997 and 2012, these are our youngest coworkers.
- Gen Z employees are entering the workforce more tech savvy then any other group. Their young minds grew up with constant information flying at them. Even their education was delivered through new technological innovations such as the smart board.
- This group of people enter the workforce with an entrepreneurial mindset. They are creative and want to grow their own empires.
- They require flexibility and an outlet for their self expression.
- They experience burn out and exhaustion quicker than any of their other coworkers, which means that work life balance will be very important for them.
- They are willing to switch employers every few years if they are not engaged and motivated.
- Even though they are the most technologically advanced group, they crave human connection.
- They need constant feedback, validation and rewards for their output.
- A high salary is not their top motivator, neither are office perks such as free coffee in the office or ping-pong tables. Rather, this group crave educational and professional achievement in their lives.
What to Focus on in Multi-Generational Work Environments
With all these differences it’s hard to know how to have an engaged workforce. Do you focus on one, while ignoring the other three? It may seem close to impossible to satisfy everyone, but with a flexible approach, it can be done!
Despite our generational differences, the key to driving engagement and loyalty is 5 factors: Autonomy, Challenge, Development, Recognition & Meaningful Work. Check out our Blog “Why Your Best Players Quite the Game” for more on this! The good news is that solid policies benefit different generations for different reasons. For example, providing flexible work hours might be desirable for millennial families with kids as well as baby boomers who need to provide care for aging parents.
In today’s marketplace you need a workforce that is reflective of the diverse customer base that you serve. Contact Essential HR to see how we can help you manage the challenges and opportunities of a multi-generational employee population to take your business to the next level or download our favourite performance and development questions.