The 2019 workforce is made up of four generations – baby boomers, Gen X, millennials and Gen Z – who span from teenagers to those in their early 70s. These generations are from completely different technological, societal and cultural backgrounds, meaning that the way they work will also be varied.  An increase in the pension age and a tightening candidate market has also influenced this diverse spread of ages.  David Morel, CEO/Founder of Tiger Recruitment, talks about how recruiters can help their clients put together a strategy for this multigenerational workforce. 

With millennials making up almost 50% of the UK workforce and Gen Z starting their first permanent roles now, attraction and retention strategies will need to show agility to appeal to the generations. This is particularly important in light of the candidate-short market and increased competition for quality talent. Here are some of the characteristics of each generation in the workplace, and examples of how your client can engage them.

Baby boomers

Baby boomers were born between the mid-40s and early 60s. During this time, they experienced a push for civil rights, popular culture revolution and monetary hardship post-war. As they’re now in their 50s-70s – and in some cases coming to the end of their working life – they may want to share their knowledge and experience with younger staff members. They may also want to have authority to make decisions in circumstances where they have experience. Many members of the oldest generation in our workforce also care about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. If your client sets up a mentoring scheme or a sustainability task force within their company, this may go a long way to help engage these candidates.

Generation X

Generation X grew up during the 70s and 80s during a time of austerity measures and – for the first time – two working parents. Commonly considered rebellious by those who came before them (the punk movement was in full swing), Generation X now typically want to feel part of a team. Having passed the half-way point in their careers, they’re hungry for leadership training (if they haven’t received it already). This generation usually needs to be challenged, and some will clash with millennials who they perceive to be self-centred and too individualistic. If your client wants to engage Gen X, they may want to set up leadership workshops those who are interested in moving up the ladder.

Generation Y (Millennials)

Commonly perceived as the lazy and entitled generation, millennials are looking for a workplace where they can have fun and make friends. A business’s culture is all-important and, if they believe in it, they’ll put a lot of trust in their organisation. Working as part of a team is important to millennials, and they want a role where they can grow, with a generous benefits package thrown in. Facilitating teamwork through blue-sky thinking sessions is a great way for your client to engage their Gen Y staff. 

Generation Z

Generation Z are just starting to enter the workforce, having been born around the turn of the century. As they’ve grown up with modern technology, they are complete digital natives who use social media and mobile technology constantly. This has given them opportunities to flex their entrepreneurial muscle, as technology has afforded them opportunities away from traditional career paths. Your client should keep this in mind when talking to their Gen Z employees about growth: for example, they may want to discuss one-off projects that will keep them challenged and motivated. Their tendency to look outside the square means that Gen Z generally have quite an independent mindset, which could cause conflict between them and older generations who think they should conform to traditional processes and methods.

Attraction through the ages

There are a few things to keep in mind when your client develops their multigenerational attraction and engagement strategy. There are some features that all the generations are seeking, including information about brand reputation and CSR policies, so make sure your client is up front with this information in the interview stages.

In addition to this, employers should allow their employees to mix and match their benefits to suit individual lifestyles, if possible. Generations X and Y may want flexible start/finishing times to coincide with school runs and gym classes, whereas baby boomers may want the option to work from home once a week, so they can complete tasks in their own time. A work-life blend is important to all generations, and a good flexible working policy will only be a positive reinforcement of their employer brand.

A great attraction strategy also means your client must consider the generations’ differences, and tailor them in the interview process. When it comes to office set-up and culture, for example, millennials typically want a fun and friendly open office space, whereas baby boomers may prefer the traditional privacy of an enclosed office. Therefore, if your star candidate is a millennial, emphasise your co-working space with its common areas for them to relax and chat to their co-workers. However, if you’re interviewing a baby boomer, highlight that you have spaces to get away from the office where they can put their head down and work.

Retaining and growing your workforce

Training and development strategies will also need to adapt to your client’s multigenerational workforce. A mentor scheme may suit all generations as it engages employees at different stages of their career, but why not try a reverse-mentorship? The older generations in the workforce still want to learn about new technologies, and if your client has the most digitally-literate generation in the same room, encourage them to set up time to impart their wisdom.

Conflict resolution is something to also keep in mind, as with differing values, experience and working styles under one roof, a multi-generational workforce has the potential to clash. Discuss incentives such as workshops, team-building days and break-out areas to encourage collaboration and teamwork.

About the author: David Morel is the CEO/Founder of Tiger Recruitment, a recruitment company that specialises in matching exceptional support staff to top businesses and private individuals. David founded Tiger in 2001 and has written extensively in the press and wider media advising both employers and job seekers on best recruitment practice.

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