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As organizations get back on track post the past few years’ events, another major shift is taking place in workforce structure. Workforce demographics are changing with an increasing number of Gen Z joining the current labor force. As a result, in most organizations, three generations are working together, i.e., Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z.
According to a Forbes article, 75% of the global workforce will be millennials by 2025. Additionally, as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1/3rd of the global workforce will comprise Gen Z by 2030.
These data underline the changing composition of the workforce and require organizations to realign their talent management strategy. It is vital that these strategies focus on the positive traits of each generation and help build a workforce that is inclined toward growth.
Multigenerational or intergenerational workforce refers to having employees across different age groups. As work-life expectancy increases, it is easy to come across four or even five generational groups working in an organization.
These groups are defined as:
There are several benefits that organizations can accrue with a multigenerational workforce. For instance, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) report, Promoting an Age-Inclusive Workforce, found that age-diverse workforces will create a more efficient, productive, and profitable economy and raise GDP per capita by almost 19% in the next three decades. Apart from the obvious economic benefits, here are a few other advantages of a multigenerational workforce:
One advantage of a multigenerational workforce is an increase in creativity and innovation. As employees from different age groups work together, they bring different perspectives and experiences. This convergence of outlooks leads to innovative solutions and new ideas, giving organizations a competitive edge. In fact, as per a survey by Randstad, 83% of the people claimed that working in a multigenerational team allows them to develop innovative ideas and solutions.
Companies that are open to hiring candidates from all age groups create a solid talent pipeline. Furthermore, developing a retention strategy that targets employees from all generations helps an organization manage talent more effectively. As hiring and retaining talent continues to be one of the critical challenges for employers, organizations with a solid talent pipeline are better positioned for growth and continued success.
A diverse workforce has a positive impact on performance and engagement. For instance, while organizations’ dependency on technology increases, they still need employees with good decision-making skills to operate these systems for the best results. While the younger workforce is more accustomed to technology, the more experienced employees tend to possess better decision-making skills. Hence, team members from different generations should work together in such a scenario.
As multiple generations come together to work, their skills and experience help guide each other and streamline operations, boosting organizational performance and engagement.
One of the critical factors that job seekers consider when applying for a job is the company’s culture, which also affects the retention rate. Organizations with employees from different age groups, experiences, and knowledge enhance the work environment and culture.
Diversity fosters relationships and provides an opportunity to learn from others, which ultimately improves the work culture.
A key advantage of a multigenerational workforce is that it allows each generation to share their ideas, experiences, and perspectives. Furthermore, companies can ask their senior employees to mentor new joiners or Gen Z employees, helping them understand the details of their roles. Similarly, younger generation employees can share their skills and help the older generation upskill.
Every generation tends to have defined characteristics and traits. To better understand these defining traits of the three generations that form the current workforce – Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z, Mercer | Mettl deployed the Mercer | Mettl’s Personality Map (MPM). Over 1600 professionals across different age groups were assessed using the MPM. The collected data provides insights into key personality traits of each generation across four factors, which were:
Some of the key findings were:
The detailed findings are published by Mercer | Mettl in their report, Building on collective strength. The report also provides recommendations on talent management strategies organizations can leverage to build a more cohesive workplace.
Different generations have different expectations from their employers. For instance, in a survey by Handshake, 73% of Gen Z respondents preferred having a flexible work schedule. Similarly, Gen Y or millennials emphasize having a work-life balance. Hence, it is vital to have an EVP that appeals to all generations. In addition, offering a work environment and perks that satisfy a broad spectrum of people helps organizations attract, build, and retain multigenerational talent.
Age bias is an ongoing concern when hiring because certain traits associated with a particular generation can sway hiring decisions. Therefore, companies must focus on educating HRs and talent acquisition managers to overcome this situation.
Also, to make hiring more inclusive, an organization can check its job listings to ensure that the language used is neutral and doesn’t use phrases that target a particular age group. These efforts can be augmented by sharing videos and images that showcase workforce diversity in the organization.
Other steps that can be taken include expanding recruitment channels and using AI to screen candidates, thus eliminating inherent bias.
Different generations have different ways of communicating, and this language gap is widening with digital communication. The younger generation tends to have more influence now, and organizations need to find a middle ground between different communication styles to avoid challenges. Having consistency in company communications ensures that the information is accessible to everyone.
As for accommodating the different communication styles, managers can use them on a smaller scale for their team’s internal communication. The leeway should be specially provided for one-on-one communication.
To understand the needs of a multigenerational workforce, collecting feedback is essential. But not all generations are comfortable giving unsolicited opinions. This situation can be easily overcome by providing feedback opportunities through surveys, appraisals, and one-on-ones.
Also, organizations can install a suggestion box for anonymous submissions. Feedback will ensure that the organization has an understanding of how employees feel and can find ways in which they can manage the workforce better.
According to the LinkedIn Global Talent Trends report, 36% of Gen Z surveyed considered learning opportunities a top priority when looking for a new job. Similarly, a Gallup study shows that 87% of millennials consider growth opportunities necessary. In a LiveCareer survey, 42% of Gen X agreed that growth was the second-most important element in a job.
These statistics indicate the importance of learning and growth opportunities to every generation. Hence, organizations must provide different knowledge-building opportunities to their employees.
While providing structured learning programs is important, organizations need to understand that upskilling and reskilling also happen informally. As mentioned above, one advantage of a multigenerational workforce is that it offers mentoring opportunities. Organizations can facilitate knowledge transfer sharing between generations through peer mentoring or assembling cross-functional teams.
As Mercer | Mettl’s report Building on collective strength points out, each generation has its strengths, which organizations can leverage. By matching jobs to each generation’s strengths, organizations will ensure they have the right person for any position. It will allow for maximum utilization of employees’ skills.
For instance, companies can trust Gen X and Gen Y with onboarding and cultural alignment. At the same time, Gen Z can work on innovation-focused projects, with older generations mentoring them.
Managing a multigenerational workforce can be rewarding if organizations take proper steps to leverage their talents. The key here is to communicate openly and transparently, creating a welcoming atmosphere for everyone, regardless of the age group. This will create a positive work culture and help individuals and organizations grow.
Mercer | Mettl offers a suite of organizational development tools suitable for different generations. It helps identify your potential and valuable employees. For example, Mercer | Mettl’s High-Potential Identification tools aid in identifying employees who have the potential to drive business success. Similarly, Mercer | Mettl’s Succession Planning tools help in identifying business successors who have experience, knowledge, and skills to lead the business.
There are several benefits of having a multigenerational workforce; some of them are:i) Increases creativity and innovation,ii) Boosts employee performance and engagement,iii) Improves work culture,iv) Provides learning opportunities through mentorship and exchange of ideas.
A multigenerational workforce can be built by expanding recruitment channels and ensuring that the EVP takes care of each generation's demands. Also, organizations need to ensure that any inherent bias is weeded through AI or Applicant Tracking System (ATS) while screening candidates.Furthermore, as almost all generations are keen on learning and growth, organizations need to provide the opportunity for the same to retain talent and build a thriving multigenerational workforce.
Having multiple generations in the workforce boosts employee performance and allows the organization to grow. Also, as people from different backgrounds come together, knowledge is shared. Furthermore, as each generation has its strength, companies can leverage those strengths and grow.For instance, an organization with a multigenerational team can deputize Gen Z to work on projects where innovations are required and ask either a Gen Y or Gen X member to guide them. Similarly, the organization can trust a Gen X employee to make crucial decisions on behalf of the organization.
Originally published June 15 2023, Updated June 15 2023
Vaishali has been working as a content creator at Mercer | Mettl since 2022. Her deep understanding and hands-on experience in curating content for education and B2B companies help her find innovative solutions for key business content requirements. She uses her expertise, creative writing style, and industry knowledge to improve brand communications.
A leadership assessment is a type of personality test used to identify and develop the competencies required in a good leader - decision-making, empathy, communication, inspiring others, etc. A leadership test can contribute to organizational planning initiatives, such as promotion decisions, succession planning, etc.