The typical (and often maligned) Millennial is such a hot topic of late, it would be easy to forget that any other generation exists, particularly when it comes to the workplace. Businesses are focusing on attracting and retaining Millennial employees, perhaps recognising that they are the future.
It’s estimated they’ll be making up 35 per cent of the workforce by 2020.
While this makes sense, it also overlooks a problem – ignoring the needs of other generations in the workplace is not a good idea. Exceptional talent can be found in every generation, not just younger ones, and while it may make sense for some industries or businesses to place a focus on Millennials given their target customer or end-user, it doesn’t mean that value cannot be found with employees of all ages.
Defining a generation
Millennials are typically born between 1980 and the early 2000s; the generation younger than this called Gen Z, and they do have some common ground with their older predecessors. Gen X is the generation above Millennials, born between 1965 and the early 80s – many older Millennials report feeling more in tune with the experiences, history and values of Generation X. Baby Boomers are often not discussed when it comes to the future of the workplace, but they shouldn’t be discounted, particularly with rising retirement ages.
Younger members of the workforce are more likely to require agility and flexibility in their work, but also demand adventure,
“...they come to work to have an experience – to meet people, to experience an enjoyable environment, and to network”. ~ The Modern Workplace 2018: People, Places & Technology Report
Older generations may also require more flexibility in their work, but for different reasons. Rather than chasing an experience, Generation X are looking for a better work/life balance – they were the first generation to see the rise of presenteeism and overtime culture, and perhaps feel they would benefit from flexibility, to create more order in their life.
Work to live, not live to work, as the saying goes.
The strong emphasis put on attracting younger talent can be off-putting to older employees. They may feel left out or pushed aside – employers must be extremely careful not to create an environment of hostility when looking to accommodate Millennial workers. While competition is fierce, and Millennials will happily look for a better offer elsewhere if their current workplace isn’t up to scratch, it must be remembered that ultimately, everyone is looking for a happier working life – it just so happens that how that life might look differs from generation to generation, and individual to individual.
By identifying key areas which might serve a purpose for everyone, you can ensure that your office caters to all generations, and denies none.