We’re giving today’s collective workforce a new label: 5Gen. Why? Because there are five generations making a living in today’s business world. Think about it: five generations all in a single workforce. That means roots run deep, values differ, and technology can either be a bridge or a barrier.
Here is the breakdown of 20th and 21st century employees, who are all working together:
- 1996-present: iGen, aka Generation Z
- 1977-1995: Millennials, aka Generation Y
- 1965-1976: Generation X
- 1946-1964: Baby Boomers
- 1945 and earlier: Traditionalists
The reason for this historic era is simple: people are living longer and more active lives. The Traditionalists and Baby Boomers do not have the financial security to retire, nor do they want to retire. In many cases the Baby Boomers are supporting the Millennials. Younger generations are more transitional, as they remain in their positions for shorter periods of time. Meanwhile, others, though fewer, aim for a “gold watch” career with a single employer. The reality is a multi-mindset, multigenerational workforce like never before. The challenge for HR is how to manage and support this five-generation workforce.
Getting Their Attention
How will you attract the new workforce? Job descriptions need to make an instant impression to move the reader from scanner to reader, yet be brief, because attention spans are short. Communicating is a challenge because each generation has its own preferences and expectations. Texting a Traditionalist might not be an option, while phoning an iGen might prove fruitless because they don’t check their cell voicemail. Managing communication with each target audience is a challenge. Technology works for all those born after 1964, however, the Boomers and Traditionalists are waiting for a personal phone call, or invitation to meet face-to-face. They have embraced technology, but they respond to more open communication and are more of a “we” vs. “me” generation. The Gen X, Y and Z candidates make up the “me” generations, and are extremely self-centric. They have global perspective and technology-driven tools, so they expect you to reach them easily: just email, text, Facetime, Skype or instant chat them.
Keeping Their Attention
How will you retain this multi-faceted workforce? Each group’s work ethic, values, and needs are completely different. Compensation and benefits are unique to each generation. Boomers and Traditionalists are concerned about affordable health plan options, while iGens, Millennials and Gen Xers want more time off and opportunities to enhance and expand their skills. Retaining top talent requires targeted benefits, development and advancement.
Avoiding the Gap
Mentoring and continuous learning are critical to the successful management of the multigenerational workforce. The right Human Capital Management (HCM) software can help HR directors bridge the generation gap to successfully recruit candidates, cultivate team building, implement effective leadership programs, and increase employee efficiency. HCM is the gateway to unifying and optimizing your talent, regardless of how many and which generations you’re engaging. You might need to provide more intense training for Traditionalists and Baby Boomers. You might be able to connect the generations by having Gen X, Y and Z employees mentor non-technology-driven employees. With HCM software, you will have the flexibility to meet the needs of all generations and the ability to evolve and grow with future generations as well.