In today’s workforce we have a collection of generations impacting the workforce. Some just starting their careers, others in the throes of making their way and others working towards that light at the end of the tunnel. Is there more value in one generation versus the other? Let’s examine this.
Our Silent Generation or Traditionals as they are sometimes called still have a place in the workforce. It has been reported that there are about 20 million adults in the Silent Generation and they make up about 3% of the workforce today. This generation came through some tough times and their character was built on having a strong work ethic and being able to persevere.
Baby Boomers are beginning to reach retirement age with the top portion of that group turning 62 this year. It is estimated thatover a third of the workforce or about 41 million workers are from the Baby Boomer Generation. This generation came along at a time when they needed to be more self-disciplined, more independent and self-reliant. They wanted to change the world.
Our next group, Generation X has been identified as a lost group. They were raised by working mothers who took just enough time off for the baby to be born and then headed back to work. They are also known as the “latchkey kids”. It is reported that there are about 53 million Generation Xersor about 35% in the workforce today. This group values independence and a work-life balance.
Millennials or Gen Y, our fourth generational group, have moved into the lead as the largest generation in the labor force with 56 million millennials or about 35% working or looking for work. Millennialsgrew up being techy, thanks in part to their love for gaming, the internet, mobile devices and social media. They value collaboration, civic duty and a place at the table.
Our final group known as Generation Z or Gen Z entered the workforce a few years ago. It is reported that Gen Z makes up about 24% of the workforce presently. This group wants flexibility and enjoys remote work options. This is our first true digital generation having grown up in a time where technology has always been at their fingertips. They are highly competitive and like to work independently.
Now having outlined some specifics about our five generations’ workforce, we ask the following questions. Can these generations work together effectively? Is there more value in one generation versus the other? Let’s think about these questions as we talk about how organizations today need to maximize the effectiveness of the five generations’ workforce.
Each generation brings value to the table, but as the world has become more tech savvy, and moving at a faster pace, it appears that the more seasoned employeesmaybe feeling the pinch of being pushed out. Some organizations are more focused on the development offledgling employees (which of course is necessary) butmay have forgotten that development needs to continue for seasoned employees who may find themselves needing to retool their skills in an ever-changing environment.
So how do we involve all our generations so that we build a feeling of value and engagement? Our fledgling employees bring a high level of energy and varied approaches to getting things accomplished. Our seasoned employees bring a wealth of real-world knowledge and experience to the table.These attributes can be complementary. What are some ways to tap into this?
One way to encourage an exchange of information is to implement a process called Reverse Mentoring. When we can pair some of our fledgling employees with our more seasoned employees, then we are encouraging a knowledge exchange that is multi-directional. Additionally, when project teams are being created, there should be a mix of these employees that make up the team. Finally, another way to ensure that development is not just for the fledgling employee is to offer an Internal DevelopmentProgram that focuses on retooling skills for those seasoned employees whose roles have changed or are changing.
In conclusion, awareness is the first step. Understanding how your employees feel about their roles is important. After that, implement a plan, create milestones, initiate action items and track the results. Here’s to a successful organization that values and utilizes all its employees.