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Engaging Employees of an Intergenerational Workforce

9/18/18 10:15 AM

Integrating people from different generations into one cohesive workplace is not an easy task. In one office space there will be people in their 50’s, 30’s, and early 20’s trying to find the right balance in order to work as a team.

Not only will all these different employees  work together, you as an employer will need to figure out how to keep employees from several different age ranges and mindsets actively engaged in their work. With a new fad for keeping your employees engaged being announced weekly, the gimmicks may seem juvenile to your Gen X employees. Because each office will contain a diverse group of employees, it is important to foster managerial behaviors that will keep these employees engaged. The first step to making sure that your employees are engaged is to know what attracts each generation to a place of work.

Gen Xers as Employees

41% of the members of Generation X see themselves as entrepreneurial. This generation was one of the first that saw both of their parents going to work, and as a result they had to become very self-reliant at a very early age. Gen X-ers saw their parents married to the workplace, devoting very little time to implementing a good work-life balance. These early experiences have caused Gen X-ers to strive for the work-life balance that was lacking in their parents lives. Therefore, employees from this generation are going to want to work more independently. Gen X-ers are a little more pragmatic and skeptical of authority. Because of this skepticism Gen X-ers are more likely to change jobs on an average of every 3 to 5 years. They are more likely to be freelancers and distrust corporate motives. To attract and retain this generation, you will need to appeal to their desire for work-life balance. Try developing family-friendly programs, such as work outings that include the family, or even flexible schedules that allow your employees to work remote from time to time. By allowing your employees some remote work time you are allowing them an opportunity of work-life balance that their parents didn’t have. Also, spend one on one time with these employees to develop trust and create good work relationships. Make your employees feel like you care about their lives outside of work and you are sure to retain this generation of independent workers and keep them engaged.


Members of this generation are frequently labeled as high maintenance, however, most experts agree that this generation has very high workplace potential. This potential stems from the fact that they grew up into a world that provides information at your fingertips, however, they remember a time when this was not the fact. So, Millennials are highly adaptive and have been forced to adapt as new technology was invented throughout their formative years. Also, unlike the generation before them, they do not seem to be jaded by the corruption of public figures that surrounds them. Millennials are adaptive and technologically savvy to a tee. Because of their highly adaptive nature, Millennials tend to switch jobs even more frequently than Gen X-ers, because they expect rapid growth and change within their work environment. 91% of Millennial employees are interested in career opportunities that can provide them with the opportunity to advance. Millennials tend to disengage when they feel that they are at a dead end job. Like the generation before them, Millennials also crave flexibility, but with a little bit of fun mixed in. If you are hoping to attract and retain your Millennial workers you will need to support even higher levels of work-life balance. Incentives such as short sabbaticals and offering the latest technology will be attractive to a Millennial employee. Millennials also need positive feedback and value good corporate citizens. Recognize the values of your Millennial employees in order for them to thrive.


Gen Z

New to the workforce, the eldest of this generation are coming in with a fresh voice for the corporate world. The members of Generation Z saw their parents affected by the great recession of 2008 and as a result value security in the workplace. While Millennials are often viewed as very idealistic, Gen Z-ers are viewed as more realistic, and are interested in creating and being a part of a workforce that can be improved upon. This generation is the first to be fully immersed in technology since birth. Kyle Elliot, from Kyle Elliot Consulting suggests, “Those who belong to Generation Z, even more so than the millennial generation, appreciate the great value that technology, and subsequently efficiency, bring to the workplace. Those companies that focus their efforts on technology and improving efficiency will continue to attract and engage millennials, recruit top talent and beat out their competition.” However, because of this immersion into technology and instant gratification Gen Z-ers expect instant gratification in the workplace as well. Offering the latest technology, making time from one on one interaction, and providing instant feedback will keep this generation engaged.


Working with an intergenerational team requires thought and consideration. When considering each generation and how to keep them actively engaged, think of their predisposition, however, also remove any assumptions you may have about each particular generation. To foster a successful workforce, whose multiple generations work cohesively, the key is to treat all of your employees as individuals, with individual needs regardless of which generation they have come from.


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