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Understanding a multi-generational workforce

26th October 2022 |

With the age of the workforce growing broader, making sure it is managed correctly is of the utmost importance. More and more people are choosing to stay on past retirement age, and many school leavers are opting not to go to university and are instead turning to full-time employment. That’s not only a big age gap, but a social, experiential gap too.

Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Zs are under the same roof, and may in some cases be managed by the same people. While there are undoubtedly some similarities, it is their differences that must be most carefully managed in order to create an effective, and ultimately beneficial, working environment.

We’ve taken a look at what these different generations have in common, what sets them apart, and what a broad church of employees can mean for your business.

What brings them together?

Regardless of their age or generation, each employee brings a unique skillset to their role, and everyone is seeking success. They will also have similar values when it comes to job satisfaction, whether that be the respect they have for the colleagues and management teams, the fairness they expect in their pay, the gratification of having hard work recognised or seeking a bit of flexibility in their role.

But just as every person is different, each team is different. Managers should take the time to work out what their teams shared values are and use them as a basis for communication and collaboration.

What sets them apart?

The most significant, and widely reported, generational differences are marked in the approach people take to their work. This considers technology, and how baby boomers are most likely to be accustomed with more manual systems while Gen Zs almost expect a degree of computational assistance, but it also considers attitudes towards employment such as job loyalty.

Baby Boomers weren’t, and still aren’t, job-hoppers. The average tenure in a role far exceeds that being demonstrated by the younger generation of today – and that isn’t to say one’s right and one is wrong, as both approaches have their benefits. Baby Boomers want stability and security in their role, whereas Millennials and Gen Z are seeking flexibility and progression opportunities. If those aren’t there, they’ll happily head elsewhere.

How do you get the best out of everyone?

That’s the million-dollar question. The key to successful management of a multi-generational workforce is understanding each generation’s strengths, and deciphering where their weakness can be supported by the strengths of others. With the wisdom and experience of Baby Boomers, the problem-solving skills of Gen Xers, the technology-focussed approached of Millennials and the fresh insights of Gen Zs, businesses will have all bases covered and open up a huge array of opportunities.

By recognising the similarities while respecting their differences, managers can foster an environment where everyone feels valued, and the business will be better for it.

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