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Who Are The People In Your Multigenerational Workforce?


December 12th, 2018

- Updated on

December 13, 2018 - 3:39pm


Managing A Multigenerational Workforce

Traveling deeper into the 21st century, ever-diligent HR leaders increasingly face both the excitement and challenges of managing a multigenerational workforce. You need only to look to the incoming 2019 U.S. lawmakers to see the historic generational change occurring among America's elected officials. 
The convergence of such a broad expanse of five distinct generations — all having their strong collective and individual personalities — is keeping human resources teams on their toes. As the labor market tightens, organizations will continue to find themselves hiring, developing and managing one of the most age diverse workforces in modern times.
Imagine the scene — or perhaps you don’t have to imagine, having already carefully woven a generationally diverse population into your organization — scanning the office to see millennials glued to their smartphone screens, Generation Xs talking on their smartphones, baby boomers trying to set up face-to-face meetings, and the newly arrived Generation Zs combining all at once, and with great skills and focus.
In one quick and sweeping snapshot, you capture all the possibilities and hurdles to success for your company. They are all there, ready to further your organization’s goals and profits. But how can you simultaneously serve your staff’s needs, preferences and future goals while also considering the best interests of your organization?
multi generational workforce

Who Are the People in Your Multigenerational Workforce?

There never has been a time when so many defined and distinct generations converged in the workplace. The generational factor has become an increasingly hot-button topic for HR teams, among the myriad other diversity and qualification matters, especially with the recent addition of Generation Z to the marketplace.
As if it wasn’t enough to try to figure out how to nurture relationships with the more mature and still career-oriented baby boomers, the dedicated and independent but work-balance-focused Generation X and the millennials who are open to change and thrive on feedback, you now need to understand how Generation Z thinks and how to ensure its seamless introduction into your organization.


Also known as "Traditionalists" or "The Silent Generation" they possess a strong work ethic. Making up a small percentage of the workforce today, Veterans are hard-working, loyal and respectful of authority. They will one of the last generations to serve their entire careers with a single employer. They are more likely to struggle with technology.

Baby Boomers

Ever since baby boomers were born to the Silent and G.I. Generations, their personal drive to succeed has been among the defining characteristics of a generation that came of age in the 1960s and 1970s. The Great Recession that hit in 2008-2009 impacted 24 percent of baby boomers’ retirement savings, according to Investopedia. 
Having taken a significant financial hit for a quarter of the population, many baby boomers who would prefer to retire, in spite of their drive to succeed, must remain in the workforce a little longer to recover some of their losses. Others remain in the workforce by desire, a growing percentage choosing to consult, freelance, or otherwise remain attached to the workforce in a full or part-time capacity.
As organizations face increasing skill shortages, some are attempting to retain access to this knowledge and experience by setting up alumni networks to leverage the knowledge and skills of older employees who still want to offer their experience but not on a full-time basis. See: How Organizations Are Harnessing The Wisdom Of Baby Boomers To Combat Skills Shortages.

Generation X

Mostly at the mid-career tier, Generation X is still very much a crucial part of today’s workforce. While this generation values hard work and commitment to one’s job, they greatly value work-life balance that includes family, friends, and hobbies beyond the office. The ability to work as independently as possible and accomplish tasks in or under the required time is essential to Generation X so they can maintain focus on exceeding expectations before sprinting for the parking lot.


Millennials have basked in the workplace limelight for more than a decade. More mature in their professional lives now, millennials’ traits still largely hold true. Open-mindedness, altruism, enthusiasm, and desire for actionable feedback are all still driving characteristics for millennial workers.
There are reports indicating that millennials in the workplace see eye-to-eye with the other generations. For example, millennials and veterans tend to agree on collaborative matters, indicating they find their work engagement and overall office morale positive.
The millennials and Generation Z are also finding common ground — and somewhat surprising common ground in the minds of some — in their preference for in-person contact over IMs, text messages and emails.

Generation Z

Although they are the proverbial “new kids on the block,” emerging Generation Z professionals — 70 million strong — come ready to work, learn, grow with the company and earn for the future. Having grown up during the Great Recession — perhaps having seen their parents lose their job or life savings — these young workers yearn for a return to company loyalty and professional stability that has taken a detour outside the standard business landscape over the past decade.
It is important to understand that Generation Z members are serious about their work, and they are definitely seeking earned recognition, growth opportunities and a sense of professional belonging.
According to Deloitte's Millennial Survey 2018, 43% of millennials envision leaving their jobs within two years; only 28% seek to stay beyond five years. Deloitte found that
"Attracting and retaining millennials and Gen Z respondents begins with financial rewards and workplace culture; it is enhanced when businesses and their senior management teams are diverse, and when the workplace offers higher degrees of flexibility. Those who are less than satisfied with their pay and work flexibility are increasingly attracted to the gig economy, especially in emerging markets."

A High-Quality Employee Rewards Program May Be a Crucial Common Thread to Managing a Multigenerational Workforce

One common denominator among any two generations is the desire to be acknowledged and rewarded for a job well done. While employees understand that their salaries serve as fair exchanges for services, your organization’s willingness to go beyond the basics may help you reduce turnover and cultivate an atmosphere of loyalty and mutual respect that will keep everyone from Generation Z to your most experienced Veteran.
  • Top rewards programs focus on the following ways to motivate teams:
  • Peer-to-peer incentives
  • Employee of the Month/Year
  • Outstanding achievement
  • Top earner in sales and other sales incentives
  • Customer service excellence
  • Safety performance and regard for fellow team members
  • Employee’s choice
In today’s multigenerational workplace, the more personalized and specialized your rewards program is, the better and easier it is for your HR team.
By customizing the way that you acknowledge and award your employees, you can ensure you show appreciation evenly among each member of your team, according to all factors, including their distinct generation.
The following infographic provides tips for bridging the generation gap, starting with four of the five generations 'at a glance.'

Infographic created by Award Concepts

Recommended Reading & References

Ken JeanisAuthor bio: Ken Jeanis is an outsourced HR consultant for Award Concepts, a leading provider of successful employee engagement programs and products. He has over 20 years of experience in the industry and currently lives in Costa Rica where he teaches at Academia Europea.