History Has Been Made – How to Handle Five Different Generations at Work

For the first time in history, the workforce now has five generations working side by side. Do you happen to know them all? If not, no worries, they are the silent generation, baby boomers, generation X, millennials, and generation Z. While each of these diverse generations have different leadership, communication and career development styles, we understand that this may pose a few challenges for both the employees and managers.

As an employer, your company plays a huge role in welcoming and being respectful to all generations. The organization depends on you, regardless of your age, to keep misunderstandings and disagreements from erupting into full-blown feuds. Being part of a successful company requires making an effort in getting to know your employees and working together with each generation succeed together.

Here are a few points that highlight the generational trends and facts within the workforce to be aware of:

The Silent Generation (ages 71-89):

  • Less than 1% percent of the U.S. workforce.
  • Strong emphasis on rules and/or policies.
  • Leads with a “command and control” style.
  • Prefers face-to-face interaction, but communicates best formally

Baby Boomers (ages 54-70):

  • 27% of the U.S. workforce, but numbers are rapidly declining.
  • Retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day, but many can’t afford to retire and need part time work.
  • Seek contract work after retirement.
  • Tend to be workaholics.

Generation X (ages 34-53):

  • 35% of the U.S. workforce.
  • Prefer to work independently and less rules.
  • Thrives in workplace that provides a work/life balance.
  • Wants to communicate directly with leaders.

Generation Y, “Millennials” (ages 21-33):

  • 37% of the U.S. workforce
  • An entrepreneurial approach to work.
  • Prefers direct communication and constructive feedback.
  • Wants a social, friendly work environment.

Generation Z (under 20):

  • Up to 2% of the U.S. workforce.
  • Uses Twitter to find jobs.
  • Prefers to communicate by smartphone/e-mail.
  • Not much job experience, however employers can leverage their networking skills.

Having all of these generations come together creates a fun, vibrant company culture. It’s important for everyone to understand the attitudes, personalities and myths surrounding each generation. Here are seven values that matter most, no matter the generation:

  1. Feeling they are respected.
  2. Being heard.
  3. Having mentorship opportunities.
  4. Understanding the company’s big picture.
  5. Engaging in effective communication.
  6. Receiving positive feedback and/or recognition.
  7. Experiencing an exchange of ideas & opportunity to be part of the solution.

No matter the generation, no matter the age, all of your employees deserves to be treated with respect. Developing mentoring programs in your company is a great way to help members of the five different generations coach and support one another. Mentoring can increase employee retention and accelerate job promotion. Helping your associates understand how the world of work is changing and how your workplace can respond to those changes is very important. You’re not alone in running your business – DecisionHR is here for you each step of the way. Questions? Need assistance? Contact us at 1-888-828-5511 to speak with your Human Resource Business Partner.