How Does Generation Factor into Your Workforce Plan?

Are you struggling to hire long-term employees? Are many in your workforce with key skills retiring soon? What do you do? Do you train other employees to fill the gaps? Or hire externally?

I factor inter-generational concerns into Workforce Planning all day long. It starts with how we write Job Descriptions and really takes on additional clout in the Talent Management phase in key areas like Communication, Systems, Performance, and Engagement. Every employee has a different ‘palate’ for employer branding and management tactics and a truly feasible strategic vision for your business must include some consideration to how you communicate your vision and sensitivity to the ages of your audience.

Consider the following:

  1. What’s your value proposition? Think of the employee / employer relationship as a value exchange. Determinants of employee motivation will be different, depending on workforce age ranges.
  2. Do people want to work for you? Why?
  3. Where do you go to source talent?
  4. What does your brand say about who you want to hire?
  5. How do you communicate your vision?

First, everybody’s different and as soon as I generalize, contradictions become obvious. However, as a rule, there are four generations that now make up America’s workforce. To start, here are some intergenerational nuances:

  • Baby Boomers, born 1946-1964 – communicate comprehensively (longer attention spans) via email, face to face, telephone; they are not afraid to ask questions: Baby Boomers are motivated internally when they can have ownership, receive recognition, and feel needed. They are sensitive to feedback and uncomfortable with conflict.
  • Gen X, born 1965 and 1980 – email, chat platforms, online forms of communication: Gen Xers prefer diversity, fun, self-reliance, and nontraditional approaches. They are willing to work hard but will not be taken advantage. Generation Xers have equally strong internal and external goal motivation. They seek guidance from their values and aspirations and are equally adept at responding to a changing external landscape. They are both responsible and responsive.
  • Generation Y or Millennials, born 1981 and 1995 – video conference, email, text, they may want an immediate response, schedule meetings, be brief and to the point—say things in fewer than 141 letters or emojis, lead with expertise and value: Gen-Y possesses self-efficacy and a belief in their abilities to handle anything. 72 percent of Millennials feel that their current organizations are not making full use of the skills they have to offer. Millennials are motivated by challenge, action, unconditional acceptance, and change. Most have social causes and will value Corporate Social Responsibility. Obsessed with social media.
  • Gen Z, born between 1996 and 2012 – text, phone, and, surprisingly, they prefer in-person, they use video social media to connect: Gen Zers are self-starters, self-learners, and self-motivators. They care about the environment and what is going on in the world. They are well versed in technology and many have a strong entrepreneurial mindset. They respect, listen and value the advice of their parents, and they think for themselves. They do not want to be judged any more than the next generation, but they’ll be especially sensitive to a lack of understanding and accommodation for who they are and what they want to accomplish.

Remember that while these arbitrarily ascribed generational categories give us a point of reference, they’re just arbitrary and there are always exceptions to the rule. Each category has idiosyncratic needs to be sure, but there is an art to unifying your workforce through communication and shared values.

Leading with your values is the best foot forward you can make. If you have a question about how to create your employer value proposition, let us help. CrescentHR is more than your practical support, we are your tactical strategy for engaging and leveraging your workforce. Check out our blog for a more elaborated overview of the generational categories.

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