A Guide for the Ages: What You Need to Know to Attract a Multigenerational Workforce

The recent arrival of Gen Z in the workplace has triggered a flood of generational comparisons, some thought-provoking and most merely whimsical. The media seems endlessly fascinated by the different historical, economic, and cultural influences that have shaped Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zers. 


They have scrutinized each generation’s favorite slang (groovy for Boomers and FOMO and meh for Millennials) as well as the average price of a home sold in the United States ($72,400 in January of 1980 and $200,300 in January of 2000).


In LinkedIn’s just-released Global Talent Trends 2020 report, the multigenerational workforce is identified as one of the four main currents that will shape talent acquisition in the coming years. And 89% of the talent professionals surveyed by LinkedIn told us that a truly multigenerational workforce makes a company more successful.


But many companies are finding it hard to attract and retain talent from all generations with equal success. Tech firms and hospitality businesses in the United States, for example, tend to have younger teams while energy and manufacturing companies typically have older workforces.


Global Talent Trends defined Baby Boomers as workers born from 1946 to 1964; Gen Xers, from 1965 to 1980; Millennials, from 1981 to 1996; and Gen Zers, from 1997 to 2012 (though we’re not seeing a lot of workers yet born in 2012).


No matter how you’re defining the generations, their differences tend to be overstated and their similarities underplayed. Nonetheless, understanding where and how they do vary can help you build a team that successfully leverages the skill sets, perspectives, and experiences of workers across the age spectrum.


Here’s a guide to understanding how the generations, when taken in aggregate, vary from one another:

1. They have strengths in different skill sets

When looked at as a whole, each generation has certain strengths that stand apart. LinkedIn data shows that Gen Z, the first generation of digital natives, is particularly strong in emerging tech skills and has a larger share of people, say, with Python programming chops than its generational counterparts. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, on the other hand, have a higher concentration of people with business and real estate expertise.


There are, of course, individuals in each generational cohort who have the skills and knowledge you may be looking for. Your candidates may or may not fit into their generation’s mold.


These differing strengths offer companies a huge opportunity. “What if you believed in your heart that every single person, at any age, had something to teach you?” asks Chip Conley, founder of the Modern Elder Academy and a strategic advisor to the leadership at Airbnb. “And what if it was partly your job to discover what it is that they are supposed to teach you?”


Forward-looking companies have cultivated the possibilities of cross-generational teams with their different skills and perspectives by creating reciprocal mentorship programs, in which younger employees and their more experienced colleagues share their specialized knowledge with one another. For example, SAP designed a Mature Talent program to boost cooperation in multigenerational teams by having coworkers of different ages teach each other. This allows SAP to raise the performance of everyone in the program — and to quell potential intergenerational conflicts. 


And if you want to tap into the wisdom of all the generations in your workforce, consider first tapping into the LinkedIn Learning course “Mentoring and Reverse Mentoring Programs at Work.”

2. They have different job priorities

When it comes to what they value at work, the generations actually share more similarities than differences. They all love good compensation and benefits, work-life balance, and inspirational colleagues.


There are, however, some important and measurable differences in what each generation hopes to find in the workplace. Gen Z, for example, values training more than other cohorts, with 36% of Gen Z saying it’s a top factor when they’re considering a new job as opposed to only 20% of Gen X. 


Nearly half of Gen Z is looking for a training program that allows them to pick up knowledge and skills independently, with a learning program they get to shape themselves. Some 62% of Gen Zers say that they want to learn to get better at their jobs, which is even higher than the number who say they want to learn for a raise (59%) or a promotion (46%). And training can be a win for everyone — LinkedIn data shows that companies that are rated highly on employee training see 53% lower attrition than those that aren’t.


While each generation values, to some degree, finding a company with a purposeful mission, Baby Boomers are the most likely to identify this as a key driver. Your company should create inspirational vision and mission statements that will not only help you attract and retain talent but will help shape your most critical decision-making.


Companies rated highly for having a purposeful mission have 49% lower attrition than companies rated poorly on this dimension, according to LinkedIn data. Dean Carter, the CHRO for Patagonia, suggests that companies have at least one “jaw-dropping, ridiculous” way to support their values — his company has three different onsite childcare centers.

Source - Read More at: business.linkedin.com