As we approach 2020, we must prepare for a significant change to the workforce: the growing influence of Generation Z. In the coming months, many companies will have five generations in the workplace “playing in their sandbox”, each with their own needs, cultures and desires. Accommodating these differences may seem impossible. But we’re here to tell you that it’s not!
A variety of ages, cultures, perspectives and genders brings value to the workplace, and it’s vital to your success to determine how to leverage these differences. We’re not ones for stereotypes. However, we are going to discuss the defining factors of each generation — Silents, Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z — and share six strategies for creating a cohesive workplace that all generations and your company can benefit from. Let’s begin.
Tim Elmore, Generation iY, 2015, Poet Gardener Publishing
Also known as Traditionalists, members of the Silent Generation were born between 1925 and 1946. Their view on life was formed by defining moments such as The Great Depression, World War II and the postwar boom years. Many Silents are Veterans, and therefore live by a “never give up” attitude. While they only account for approximately 2 percent of workforce generations, Silents remain a valuable piece of every company. They have high regard for communication, teamwork and collaboration — something all companies can stand to benefit from.
Baby Boomers were born roughly between 1947 and 1964 and make up approximately 29 percent of workforce generations. Boomers are a more optimistic and ambitious generation and are determined to work hard like their parents. They were shaped by a rise in civil rights activism, Vietnam and inflation, which resulted in a decline in population growth (this is why Gen X is a smaller generation than the others). Boomers will likely prolong retirement as much as they can since their retirement savings were decimated by the fall of the dot.com marketplace and the 2008 financial crisis. Because of this, younger generations are experiencing difficulties finding jobs.
Gen Xers or the “slacker” generation were born between 1965 and 1979 and account for 34 percent of workforce generations. Known as the inventors of the “work/life balance”, Generation X is marked by their skepticism of authority and focus on the value of working smarter, not harder. They are always creating new ways to simplify the workplace. In fact, many Gen Xers are entrepreneurs! They are quick to adapt and have a strong understanding of technology, and quite undeserving of the bad reputation given by their Boomer parents.
The age range of Millennials varies, but most agree their generation was born between 1980 and the late 90s. In the workforce, Millennials are often referred to as demanding and expecting, although they’re the most inclusive, tech-savvy and resilient generation in comparison to the generations before them. Additionally, Millennials are one of the most educated generations and are most similar to the Silents since they value team collaboration. They also enjoy a more flexible work environment than previous generations, and account for 34 percent of workforce generations — but that number could double in the coming years.
Gen Z, the newest generation to enter the workforce, was born between 1998 and 2016. Like Millennials, GenZers value a flexible work environment and are most likely to take advantage of remote opportunities. They’re exceptionally tech-savvy and generally have higher expectations for their employers in terms of workplace accommodations and social advocacy. In the workplace, GenZers prefer to communicate through online chat or email, rather than in-person conversations. As opposed to Boomers and Gen X who prefer in-person communication.It’s important to keep in mind that these are generalizations about each generation. Just because someone is a Millennial doesn’t mean they won’t have the same “never give up” attitude as a Silent, or then a Boomer can’t be tech-savvy. It is important, however, to understand how the members of these generations think, what they value and what they’re looking for most in the workplace. With that being said, let’s discuss six key strategies for creating a multi-generation friendly workplace.
When communication suffers, the company suffers. Offering multiple methods of communication, such as email, chat and in-person meetings, can help to improve your company’s communication and productivity.
Tim Elmore, Generation iY, 2015, Poet Gardener Publishing
Younger generations may not feel comfortable communicating in-person, while older generations may struggle with online platforms such as texting and chat. By implementing a variety of communication options, you’re more able to create a cohesive work environment.
Things like health insurance and 401(K) surprisingly don’t matter as much to younger generations. Instead, they’re looking for opportunities that allow flexible work hours, newest technology and the ability to pursue their passions. Traditionally, a strong salary, good health benefits and 401(K) would be enough to sway a hire to join your company — but this isn’t the case for everyone. Reevaluate your compensation and benefits packages to make sure they offer benefits that cater to all generations. This may require some creativity, such as implementing work from home days or concierge services, fitness centers and healthcare services, so don’t be afraid to push the limits a little. This will also impact how you reach out to your prospective employees.
Regardless of their age, all employees are concerned with what their future holds. Ease their minds with opportunities for continued education both inside and outside of your company. Seminars and industry meet-ups are an ideal way to engage a variety of age groups and educate them about industry updates and the latest tools of the trade. External mentoring groups, like Edge Mentoring, are a great resource to provide more experienced employees with a way to share their knowledge and experience while providing GenZ and Millennials with guidance and experience. Within your company, set up a mentoring program and Q&A sessions that allow younger employees to learn insights from the executives in your company. This will build trust and improve your company’s communication.
Does your current office space cater to your multi-generational dynamics and promote productivity? If not, you may want to consider a more open layout. Lower partitions between desks cater to older generations who are used to more secluded cubicles but offer the open space younger generations are looking for. Additionally, Millennials and Gen Zers enjoy a variety of workspaces, so consider adding different types of collaboration and seating areas throughout the office for these two workplace generations.
Contrary to popular belief, automation is your friend, especially when it gives multi-generational employees the opportunity to learn and work at a higher level. Automating the simpler tasks can improve your productivity and foster collaboration between employees.
Any new hire, regardless of their generation, needs to be properly assimilated into your company and its culture. However, a Millennial hire will require different onboarding tactics than a Gen Xer for example, which is why it’s important to understand the generational differences between hires before attempting to assimilate them into your company — especially for an executive position.Since multiple workplace generations are “playing in the same sandbox”, it’s more vital now than ever to find the perfect fit for your executive position and ensure they are well assimilated. At Kinsley Sarn, our assimilation services are backed by years of generational experience and research to effectively onboard your new executive. This allows you to make the most out of your executive hire while respecting their generational nuances as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Click the button below to learn more about the ways our team and services can benefit your multi-generational company and its next hire.