Navigating Multiple Generations in the Workplace

February 9, 2016 Brian Beattie

Since 2008, more and more of Generation X and Y are not only in the workplace, but becoming managers. This is a big shift, as the perceptions of these two generations are much different than of the generations that came before.

A study by EY identified some of the challenges of having multiple generations in the workplace, what benefits/perks should be used to retain each generation, and how the different generations are perceived as managers. What did they conclude? Keep reading to find out.

Challenges Companies are Facing

When dealing with multiple generations of employees, the main issues companies identified are:

  • Different work expectations
  • Lack of comfort with younger employees
  • Having subordinates older than their manager

But steps can be taken to mitigate these issues. Some of the solutions to these challenges include:

  • Work style accommodations
  • Team building exercises
  • Generational difference training
  • Cross generational networking
  • Tailored communications

Which Benefits Do You Prefer?

With three different generations working together, it’s a struggle for employers to know which benefits/perks to offer to help retain employees. Each generation has their own wants and needs and balancing them all can be complicated.

So What do Generation X, Y, and Baby Boomers Value Most?

  • A strong salary was the top choice among all generations when it comes to monetary compensation
  • Baby boomers put a larger emphasis on benefits than the younger generations
  • For Generation X, they want flexibility in their jobs
  • Being promoted and being able to rise through the ranks is important to Generation Y

These statistics show that even though competitive compensation is still highly valued, it’s going to take more than that to keep each generation at your company. Does this mean that you have offer a multitude of different incentives to your employees? No, but having flexibility with what employees can have in regards to benefits will go a long way in retaining those high performers.

The Generations as Managers

The last part of the survey evaluated how each of the generations are perceived as capable leaders based on certain traits. Overall, Generation X is viewed as the best equipped to manage teams. They also ranked highest on 9 of 11 managerial attributes.

Generation Y is perceived as being the least equipped to manage a team, but ranked highest on diversity and inclusion. This means that they are successful at working with and building culturally diverse teams. They are also considered to be the most tech savvy of the three generations.

When it comes to executive presence, Boomers ranked #1 and are seen as the best leaders during challenging times. But, they ranked lowest on diversity, flexibility, and inclusive leadership.

These results aren’t shocking. As Generation Y continues to grow and mature, they will develop the leadership abilities needed. As well, opinions will change about their ability to lead as they start to prove themselves in the workforce. Boomers are considered “old school” by the younger generations but are ready to pass the baton to Generation X. Generation X leaders are taking over for the Boomers as Boomers retire and leave the workforce.

Concluding Thoughts

As the generational mix that makes up the workplace continues to change, there will be more shifts in how we attract and retain talent. The solutions that we used yesterday won’t necessarily work tomorrow. The key is to be flexible and adapt to the changing circumstances. 

About the Author

Brian Beattie

Brian Beattie is the Chief Financial Officer at Volaris Group. Besides overseeing the financial health of the company, he works closely with Volaris’ legal and M&A team on all new acquisitions. Brian is an expert on every stage of the M&A process – from sending out the non-disclosure agreement to executing the sales purchase agreement.

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