The Generational Shift
How you can embrace a rapidly changing workforce.
Today’s workforce is changing at an incredible pace. In the last few years, Baby Boomers have shifted from the dominant group in the office to the minority due to retirement and the rise of the Millennial. In fact, this swing has taken place almost entirely in the last 5 years. With your employee population quickly evolving, is your culture and business keeping up to get the most from each demographic? Here are a few tips to keep each group engaged, motivated, and most importantly, productive.
Baby Boomers – 25% of the workforce
As the veteran group in the workforce, Baby Boomers are coveted for their experience, leadership and work ethic. They’re well trained, loyal, and a wellspring of information that should be shared with your younger employees. The problem is, retirement and competing companies are constantly a threat to steal these talented individuals away.
The key to keeping Boomers at your company is making sure they’re happy and engaged. It’s easy to put people in a box when they’ve been with an organization for a while, but Boomers crave flexibility and challenges just like everyone else. If one of your top performing employees wants more time with family or to spend on hobbies, offer flexible hours, work from home opportunities, and mobile connectivity to keep them productive wherever they are. You can also pair them with opportunities in different areas of your company to ensure they’re able to keep learning and growing later in their careers. By listening to their needs and finding a balance between their happiness and productivity, you’ll have an easier time fending off the lure of retirement or a competing offer.
Generation X – 33% of the workforce
Often the forgotten generation in the workforce, Gen X makes up 1/3 of the employee population in America and is an untapped resource for executive talent. Purpose and training are the two biggest areas of opportunity that companies need to maximize this employee group and set themselves, and their workforce, up for future success.
Individualistic and flexible, Gen Xers are always up for a challenge, so make sure you’re identifying your most promising producers and asking them if they’re interested in advancing in your biggest areas of need. Then, train them for the job you need them to do. If they have drive and interest, they’ll likely learn to swim in whatever environment they’re placed in. Unfortunately, training opportunities once they’re placed in those areas are typically sparse. By creating development and advancement paths for this group, you’ll enrich your talent pipeline and be able to find your next wave of executives within your own ranks, instead of paying a steep price trying to hire them away from your competition.
Millennials – 35% of the workforce
A lot has been written about this segment of the workforce in recent years – and for good reason. Millennials have recently overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest portion of the employee population. But how do you get the most from this increasingly important group?
Technology and new ideas are the biggest assets that Millennials bring to an organization. They’re driven, creative, and hungry to make an impression. Pair these employees with your most seasoned cohort to leverage the best qualities of both groups. Have your inexperienced employees talk with seasoned veterans about their new ideas – and have your Baby Boomers show them the path to making those ideas a reality. The Boomer generation can learn new technologies and programs from the younger talent, and help you identify which individuals you want to keep around to develop out of your recent hires.
Millennials are known to change jobs fairly frequently. Most will change employers four or more times in their first 10 years of work. There are two avenues you can take to navigate this trend. Either plot a clear path forward with achievable goals for your most promising Millennial employees in hope that they’ll see their brightest future is with your company, or simply let them go and stay in touch. Maybe a talented person who fits well with your team will still want to go elsewhere to build their skill sets and knowledge base, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to bring them back when they’re more experienced and more valuable than when they left. Just make sure to keep that mentor/mentee relationship strong, even if a Millennial employee decides to leave.
As the generational paradigm of your workforce shifts, you need to constantly evaluate your benefits offering and culture to make sure your top talent isn’t ripe for competition to steal. Finding a new employee costs your company $4,000 and 52 days of productivity on average. With that many resources going into recruitment, it’s much easier, and cheaper, to maximize the talent you have now. Building a consistent and reliable leadership pipeline will put you miles ahead of your competition – but that means taking care of your employees of every age and at every level to achieve the best possible future results.