Generations at work

As companies look to maximize their business performance, they need focus first on their employees. That means attracting the right talent from the beginning, developing their staff once they bring them on, and coming up with strategies to keep them on board in the future. However, every company should make sure they tailor their recruiting, development and retention strategies to their workforce’s different generations. After all, members of different generations are attracted to and stay in certain positions for different reasons – not all financial.

The three generations most represented in today’s workforce are:

• Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964
• Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1980
• Generation Y, or the Millennials, those born between 1981 and 2000

What members of each generation want from their jobs differs due to their relative ages, and the political, social and economic environments they grew up in. Members of Generation Y, the Millennials, are certainly in favor of good salaries, but just as important to them are strong leadership, effective communication and career-advancement opportunities. The Baby Boomers, on the other hand, may be looking for greater benefits packages. Those in the middle, from Generation X, might want a job that offers them training and development in new technologies and systems.

In addition, it is important for global companies to remember that the three main generations in the West do not necessarily correspond to generations in the rest of the world. Each society has its own generational groupings based on its own history and events, and each society ascribes different characteristics to its own generations.

In order to avoid the pitfalls of directing homogeneous strategies to all age groups, companies should design customized programs that speak directly to the aspirations, ambitions and attitudes of their employees from each generation. By tailoring their programs to the different age groups, companies can avoid misreading their employees’ priorities and offering them the wrong incentives. This will lead to better recruiting, development and retention of employees.

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