The modern workplace consists of a range of employees. Some may consist of an aging workforce who are looking to stay in employment longer due to financial restraints and receiving their pensions later in life, right through to young employees who are joining employers straight out of school on apprenticeships or full time work due to Raising the Participation Age (RPA).
Each generation brings with them a different set of skills, learning styles and expectations of reward from their employer. We must consider these differences between generations in HR when interacting and communicating with employees. The below table from the CIPD shows the current statistics for each age group currently in the workforce.
% in the workforce
45 – 60
30 – 44
16 – 29
There are a number of areas which should be considered when employing a cross section of generations;
Management: mis-communication may occur when line managing somebody from a different age group due to differing priorities and past experiences. Generation Y may need more of a ‘hand holding’ approach having recently left education and therefore not aware of how a work environment operates. Whilst an employee from Baby Boomers would be more self sufficient.
Retention: it is understandable that Veterans would have been through a lot of change during their careers, ‘jobs for life’ rarely exist anymore and technology has come on leaps and bounds, it is reported that this means a Veteran is more likely to stay within the company. Whilst Generation Y would be more inclined to leave an organisation if their colleagues are made redundant, this is because they have more of a social network and rely on this heavily.
Reward: interestingly only baby boomers feel pay should be based on their length of service whilst other generations feel pay should be based on performance. This is important to consider when designing your rewards and benefits packages. Having something to suit everybody may not always be possible but a review of your employees demographic can help shape this.
Other interesting facts about each generation which you may recognise from your companies include...
Veterans want to feel personally valued within the organisation and look for others to recognise their loyalty and experience they bring to the role. Baby boomers show a strong desire for work/life balance. They are also keen to engage in corporate social responsibility as much as possible and class this as an important part of their work/organisation.
Generation X are very engaged and believes in a strong sense of team and socialising. They are very loyal to people within their organisation. Generation Y are the generation most likely to recommend peers to their employers over other generations and are the most engaged when access to continual professional development (CPD) is strong. Generally they are also more optimistic this is probably because they have had less uncertainty during their working life.
To summarise these are some points to consider when attempting to blend various generations in one company;
- Be flexible with your management skills, one style won’t fit all!
- Ensure knowledge sharing is prevalent between generations to break down barriers and open the channels of communication.
- Use coaching/mentoring to help guide cross working across the generations.