Forbes Ranks Eastridge Workforce Solutions as One of the Nation's Top Professional Recruiting Firms - Learn more »

Eastridge Workforce Solutions' Home

Three Generations, Countless Differences

Eastridge Blog posted by Angela Ma on

Three Generations Countless Differences

Competition for Talent

The labor market has resulted in an intense competition for attracting and retaining a skilled workforce. To successfully recruit and manage a multigenerational workforce in the 21st century, leaders must increase employee engagement, collaboration and communication across the organization to keep employees happy, driven and motivated.

Today's Workforce Demographics

With today’s workforce spanning across three generations, differences in age are widening as more companies are hiring a greater number of college graduates than ever before.

More than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials (adults aged 18 to 34 in 2015), and this year they surpassed Generation X (adults aged 35 to 50 in 2015) to become the largest share of the American workforce, according to new Pew Research Center analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau data.

In the first quarter (January-March) of 2015, Millennials composed 34% of the labor force with 53.5 million workers, Gen Xers composed 34% with 52.7 million and Baby Boomers (adults aged 51 to 69 in 2015) composed 29% of the workforce with 44.6 million workers, according the Pew Research Center.

Multigenerational Workforce Challenges

With a multigenerational workforce come challenges stemmed from different perspectives, approaches and habits. Here are four of the biggest differences among generations that you need to be aware of to drive productivity and improve employee engagement in your organization:

Values

Workplace values are the driving force behind every company as they guide the work ethic of each individual. However, there is no easy way to manage a multigenerational workforce whose values are not aligned.

  • Baby Boomers are focused on their career and the achievements that are necessary for their personal growth within a company. This generation is accountable and reliable, as a majority of them have proven their loyalty to a company with many years of employment.
  • Gen Xers are open to the idea of job-hopping depending on the pay and benefits offered. This generation looks for meaningful work and is drawn to companies that cultivate diversity of thought in the workplace.
  • Millennials are pragmatic, sociable and self-confident. This generation is open to being completely honest to achieve a work-life balance that provides them with a sense of belonging.

Work Style

Finding commonality in work style among generations is difficult as each generation comes from a different background that shapes their work style accordingly.

  • Baby Boomers, having grown up in a more leisurely time, work long hours to achieve their career goals and struggle to find a work-life balance. This generation is comfortable working independently and relies on old methods to complete their work.
  • Gen Xers grew up strongly influenced by the technological boom, resulting in entrepreneurial growth. This generation is open to taking risks and is not particularly focused on working their way up the corporate ladder. Instead, Gen Xers are interested in feeling valued for their skills and require more feedback from supervisors.
  • Millennials were raised with constant access to technology and the Internet. Having grown up during a time of prosperity, this generation is comfortable trying new things and negotiating to work on their own terms.

Use of Technology

Technology in the workplace improves employee productivity, efficiency and communication. In recent years, however, the technology gap or digital divide has further separated the generations in the workplace.

  • Baby Boomers, although raised before the technological boom, taught themselves how to adapt to the growing use of technology in the workplace.
  • Gen Xers use technology for convenience purposes but has not fully integrated it to be a huge part of their lives.
  • Millennials view technology as an integral part in completing tasks, staying connected and socializing, both at work and at home.

Method of Communication

Technological advances have made it easier than ever to achieve effective methods of workplace communication. However, preferred methods of communication differ among generations.

  • Baby Boomers are accustomed to communicating and interacting face-to-face through process-oriented meetings. This generation prefers a direct style of communication that incorporates body language.
  • Gen Xers choose electronic communication that includes phone calls and emails as preferred methods. This generation favors informal communication that is blunt and straight to the point.
  • Millennials are most comfortable sending short instant messages and using social media to communicate. This generation prefers communicating behind a computer screen.

Conclusion

It is imperative that organizations understand the challenges and difficulties that come with properly managing a multigenerational workforce.

Stay tuned for our next article that will provide you with actionable advice on how your company can attract and retain the best talent.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE EASTRIDGE BLOG

Sign up to receive a monthly email update of our latest blog posts.