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How to Retain a Multigenerational Workplace

Gen Z. Baby Boomers. Millennials. Today’s workplace is a melting pot of different generations, which can pose challenges for leaders in HR. After all, everyone has different motivators at different ages. Think about it… Did you want the same things in your 20’s that you do now?

In a tight talent market that’s moving fast, it’s more important than ever to understand the wants and needs of every employee. Research shows benefits that are essential for Gen Z may look vastly different from those that are critical to Gen X. The same goes for other aspects of the workplace like management styles and company culture. But what does each generation value in a benefits package, and which elements of company culture can help retain them? Here’s a snapshot of what each group wants:

Gen Z (Born 1996-2012)

Generation Z accounts for 61 million people in the United States. Proven to be money motivated and pragmatic about their careers, these digital natives are the youngest generation in the workplace. The first full class of Gen Zers graduated in 2018, so these people are likely in entry-level roles at your company, just kicking-off their careers. As they grow and develop, it’s imperative to understand how to keep them at your organization and away from the competition. But how? If your team includes members of Generation Z, consider adapting the below to your benefits package and company culture.

  • Benefits: Gen Zers were raised in a time of economic stress, which led to a more realistic and pragmatic outlook on their careers than the Millennials that came before them. Communicate benefits like 401k matching that allows them to save and develop a sense of security for their futures.

  • Company culture: These tech-savvy individuals are the most digitally connected generation, but they’re also proven to be the loneliest. Promote collaboration on your teams to elevate engagement for this generation. Assign projects to groups and consider incorporating team building activities to help retain them.

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Millennials (Born 1981-1995)

The largest generation in the workforce, Millennials likely represent a range of positions in the organization. Ages 24 to 38, they may be in mid-career, senior leadership or management roles. Although stereotypes of this cohort valuing perks like ping pong tables and kegs in the office are still prevalent, research shows the opposite is true. Here’s a glimpse of what will keep Millennials happy and engaged:

  • Benefits: A recent LaSalle Network study illustrates that one of the top reasons Millennials are open to new opportunities is to seek a better benefits package. To retain your best people, consider adding benefits that appeal to this demographic. Student loan reimbursement, additional PTO and flexibility options are a few examples of benefits Millennials value.

  • Company culture: According to CNN Money, “vision from leadership that clarifies the future is appealing to millennials and can increase retention.” Transparency is key for millennials in the workplace, so HR should consider sharing the trajectory of the organization in one on one meetings with employees, or with a larger forum on a quarterly basis.

Gen X (Born 1965-1980)

Pew Research has defined Gen X as “America’s neglected ‘middle child.’” As unflattering as the title may be, we don’t hear much about this group. Despite being overlooked by the media, this demographic is integral to the workplace. According to CNBC, Gen X now accounts for 51% of leadership roles globally. But which factors will make them stay?

  • Benefits: Benefits that promote financial stability and flexibility are key for Gen X. As they’re caring for both children and ageing parents, these benefits are highly valuable to this cohort, and can help you increase retention.

  • Company culture: For Gen X, connectivity is key. In fact, 67% of Gen X leaders are effective in “hyper collaboration.” In other words, they want to break down organizational silos so different groups can work together and foster a greater level of innovation. Although they’re often in leadership roles, they’ve been the slowest generation to advance, receiving fewer promotions than the Millennials before them.

Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964)

Nicknamed after an uptick in the post-WWII birth rate, baby boomers are the most experienced group in the workplace. The media has covered the clash between Baby Boomers and Millennials at nauseum, but not many highlight what Boomers want or need.

  • Benefits: When it comes to a benefits package, Glassdoor reports that Boomers value salary level and health insurance.

  • Company culture: Mission and values seem to be essential for the Baby Boomer generation. In one study by Harvard Business Review, a member of this cohort stated, “If I didn’t get personal fulfillment and feel like I was doing something good, it would be miserable to put that much time and effort into something.” Ensuring employees understand the impact of their work is critical to keep members of this generation happy.

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