How to manage five generations

As Generation Z prepares to enter the workforce, how should organisations plan for generational diversity?

The five-generation workforce has to find a place for the non-retired traditionalists (born before 1946); the baby boomers; Gen X; Gen Y and Gen Z.  Generally held to be those born after 2000, the first teenage representatives of Generation Z are 15 and beginning work experience, part time work or considering their options when it comes to university, internship or something else.

Meanwhile, some Generation Y-ers (also known as Millennials) are already in leadership roles.  During 2015, Gen Y-ers will become the largest percentage of the workforce for the very first time.  By 2025, they will make up about 70% of the entire workforce.  Two research reports (Barclays and CISCO) set out the characteristics of Generation Y in the workplace including:

  • As motivated and engaged as their bosses (64% say career and personal development are important to them)
  • Place a high value on freedom and flexibility
  • Attuned to an 'aways on' lifestyle
  • Interested in employers' social brand
  • Interested in learning from networking with peers
  • Not interested in cumbersome, paper-based systems
  • High regard for work-life balance
  • Job-hopping if their needs aren’t met yet loyal to their organisations

Ideas for managing multi-gen workplaces

  • Internal, inter-generational and reverse mentoring can have reciprocal benefits
  • Survey the workforce/carry out talent assessments the understand demographics and conduct
  • Provide change and stress management training

And for Gen Y in particular

  • Give them control of their own training and personal development – they love autonomy
  • Give them an attractive workplace – secure mobile strategy; automated workflows
  • Give them special team/technology based projects to work on

Not simply a question of age

  • Of course, these broad groupings are generalisations.  Surely we can all be millennials in our hearts?!  Take this Pew Research test to find out how millennial you are.
  • Workplaces need to be prepared for a Gen Z workforce that has no concept of data security!

Additional sources: Forbes; Business Insider (Australia); Information Age;; CISCO.