Every generation has a different outlook on life and work. Today’s workforce for employee engagement is primarily made up of five generations: Silent Generation (born between 1925 and 1944), Baby Boomers(born between 1946 and 1964), Generation X (1965-1979), and Generation Y (1980-1994), with Generation Z (born after 1994)who are fresh out of collegeand are only recently entering the industry. The challenge of managing employee engagement of people born 7 decades apart could be daunting.
There is, to eloquently put it, a generational tension between these generations. After all, Millennials prefer to communicate with coworkers via text, whereas Baby Boomers, on the other hand, do not text or at least do not prefer it so much. And thesegenerational differences happen to be the root of some of the most significant changes in our workplaces.
While baby boomers were motivated by company loyalty, teamwork, duty, other generations are motivated by unique work experiences, their personal-professional interests rather than the company’s interests, diversity, work-life balance, individuality, and creativity.
A very common question we are asked is ‘What drives employee engagement with the generational differences present?’
WHAT DRIVES EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT?
First let’s talk about the Silent Generation. Even though nearly all of them are retired, this group still accounts for 1% of the workforce today. Their vast life experience and knowledge spans a few decades. They helped to shape a work ethic that has helped to build and expand many industries that are still employing people.
The name “Silent Generation” comes from the fact that they were born during the Great Depression and WWII, when children were expected to be seen but not heard. They are civic-minded, loyal, and good team players who place a high importance on following the rules. They value being useful and needed, despite their lack of technological proficiency. Youmake sure they have plenty of training opportunities, as competency is a major motivator for employee engagement. Our research shows that this generation is highly engaged. They tend to naturally drive employee engagement amongst baby boomers and GenX.
Baby Boomers make up a little more than 20% of the workforce, with many of them opting to work past retirement age. They, like the Silent Generation, bring a vast amount of experience to the table. Boomers require more role clarity and understanding of how an organization uses their skills because of this experience. You must encourage team-building initiatives and mentoring relationships that can encourage Boomers to participate more socially.
It might be hard to believe but today’s workforce includes nearly 60 million Generation Xers, who bring a potent mix of traditional work ethic, innovative inclination, and technological know-how. While they share some of the work characteristics of previous generations. Xers place a premium on having creative input, finding meaning in their jobs, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. They are familiar with technological tools. They still value traditional learning methods such as workshops, seminars and that’s the best part. To increase their employee engagement, make sure to get them involved in social and team-building activities.
The Millennial generation, also known as Generation Y, is the largest and fastest-growing segment of the workforce. They grew up interacting with Internet-based technology, tend to be more goal-oriented, and value social media as a way to connect with others. While Millennials tend to leave jobs after two to three years, about half of them plan to stay at their current company for at least nine years. Purpose and shared values, two of Millennials’ strongest engagement drivers, may be the key to retaining them. They value making a visible difference in the world, so corporate philanthropy and career-pathing activities will be critical in keeping Millennials engaged in their work. They are usually difficult to engage as most of the organizations do not have a purpose. Most of the employee engagement surveys miss out on their disengagement as they do not measure purpose.
Generation Z’s oldest members are just starting out in their careers. They are even more tech-savvy than Millennials, and they use their skills to improve any project they work on. Zs are highly competitive, motivated by money, and seek job security. They were brought up by GenX, while struggling with several economic meltdowns and consequent job losses.As a result of growing up with social media, Zs had access to information. Constantly compare themselves to millions of people. They tend to work hard and play hard. Most of the employee engagement models do not understand the drivers of engagement of this generation. As a result, a few companies meet the expectations of this generation.
As you look to the future, you’ll have to strike a delicate balance between accommodating not only millennials and Gen Z, but also Baby Boomers and Gen X workers. Because of their age and sheer numbers, they are a generation that no company can afford to ignore.