We’re living in a time when multiple generations are working together, so considering a multigenerational workforce in your company policy can be critical in driving employee happiness and retention.
Workplaces are ever-changing environments. Younger digital natives are entering the global workforce, joining older, more traditional workers. Each generation has markedly distinct perspectives, values, goals and motivations. It’s more important than ever to ensure that every employee feels included and appreciated.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to crafting employee policies. But to help you on your way, here’s a low-down on the habits and expectations of the different members of your workforce.
Getting familiar with a multigenerational workforce
The Baby Boomer generation emerged after World War II, and the catastrophic event shaped many aspects of this generation. It’s the generation that has lived and worked the longest in history. As such, most expectations and values tend to revolve around wealth generation, status and retirement benefits.
Owing to the financial insecurities of their parents’ generation, many Baby Boomers have remained in one or two jobs their entire working lives. They may have also climbed corporate ladders to achieve greater status in the form of company cars and class of travel.
Boomers have worked hard to generate wealth with which to retire. They may see benefits such as the ability to work from home and trips that combine work and leisure as unnecessary—which are just some of the differences that arise when you examine a multigenerational workforce. Baby Boomers are, largely, a loyal generation that tends to follow the rules and laws. They remain the driving force behind most established economies to this day.
Generation X is the name given to those born between the mid-60s and early-80s. It’s the generation that follows the Baby Boomers. But unlike their parents, there’s evidence to suggest that they are placing less emphasis on a safe and comfortable retirement.
Many who fall within this definition are midway through their careers and are likely in their peak-earning years—which are still likely to yield less wealth than their parents did at the same age. Many Gen Xers have strong college degrees—and associated debt. But in spite of these, they will likely earn less in real terms than their Boomer parents did.
Researchers suggest that this leads to a balanced work ethic. This generation has a concern for wealth and loyalty, but also one that values work benefits. A corporate policy that focuses on financial gains, however, is likely to be favoured over those with peripheral benefits.
Millennials are the generation that was born before or came of age during the dawn of the 21st century. As far as work expectations go, they represent the biggest swing away from the Boomer generation.
This generation has seen the rise of technology in the workplace. Thanks to mobile technology, for the first time, employees could effectively work from anywhere. This generation has taken a notable move away from unrelenting company loyalty, with a commitment to companies that best appreciate their contributions. With this generation constantly connected to their phones, apps such as Uber and Uber Eats have also made their way into corporate policies to transport and feed employees, through platforms like Uber for Business.
Although Millennials face the most uncertain economic times since the Great Depression, it’s also the generation that’s started to place greater emphasis on peripheral, lifestyle-centred benefits in the workplace. Tech giants and start-ups seemingly compete for the most attractive employee benefits, such as unlimited vacation days, on-site cafeterias for meals at all hours, options to combine travel with business trips for bleisure and the ability to work remotely.
Generation Z, which includes people born between 1995 and 2012, supplies the youngest generation to current workforces. If Millennials introduced new demands to workplace policies, shifting away from pure financial gain, Generation Z doubled down on them.
Gen Z is disrupting industries, thanks to increasing technological awareness and hyper-connectivity. Many of these employees place greater importance on work-life balance. More peripheral benefits and freedom, like bleisure trips and workplace perks, trump status symbols and sometimes even salaries. Environmental sustainability and social responsibility are also hot topics. Incorporating greener travel options such as electric vehicles or bicycles into your corporate policies is likely to attract and retain Gen Z talent.
This generation is noticeably different from any others before it—especially compared to the Boomers still working in positions of power. As their numbers rise in businesses around the world, it’s clear that company policies should consider a multigenerational workforce.
Corporate policies that don’t consider the rapidly shifting and diversifying workplace risk alienating large parts of the workforce. They may also undermine generationally-different goals and ideals. Conversely, corporate policies for a multigenerational workforce that respect the older workforce’s contribution to the company, but still keep an eye on the future, are far more likely to retain the employees most pivotal to ongoing development.