Satisfy Your Multi-Generational Workforce

Founder and President of Princeton Proper. Gwendolyn also serves as a member of SMB Experts, an Oracle-sponsored panel comprised of today’s SMB thought leaders.

For the first time in history, companies may have as many as four generations of employees under their roof. Young workers from Generation Z are joining the workforce, alongside Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials. It’s a bit mind blowing to think that never before have there been this many separate generations of workers at the same time.

This unique situation offers a variety of work-related expectations and potential issues. We’re seeing measurable changes in terms of work-life balance, social impact, performance management, and upward mobility because of evolving mindsets.

In speaking with owners and leaders of small and medium-sized companies, they noticed consistent expectations come to light within their multi-generational workforces.

Despite the differences between each employee’s generation, they all placed value on similar things:

  1. Being mission-driven. Employees want to be part of a meaningful work environment that extends beyond the company’s bottom line.  They want to see their impact in the broader community and feel a sense of work satisfaction that empowers others.
  2. Having flexibility. In a recent Gallup study, 51% of employees said they would leave their current job for one that offered flexible work hours. This because the typical 9-5 workday is gone. Today’s employees desire a better work-life balance, so they want the flexibility to work virtually and adjust their hours and schedules as needed.  Providing benefits and perks that accommodate employees’ needs—like flextime and the ability to work remotely—translates to higher levels of engagement and well-being in employees.
  3. Being authentic. According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace study, only 23% of employees feel their manager provides meaningful feedback to them. Employees want straight talk. They want honest, constructive feedback that will allow them to do their jobs better and grow professionally. Employees also expect to be vocal in the workplace, and to be heard by leadership at all levels.
  4. Loosening structure. An increasing number of companies are throwing away the traditional organizational chart to get rid of rigid hierarchy. Instead, they’re proactively creating team environments where a bigger number of employees are given the authority to make decisions on their own. The delegation of responsibility is leading to better performance, while also fostering company pride for their multigenerational employees.
  5. Creating diversity. I’ve heard many times from my network of company leaders that their employees believe the best ideas come from groups of people from different backgrounds and experiences. When a diverse group comes together, it encourages bold creativity and fosters innovation.  Further, business owners I know believe strongly in this value too and work to recruit and retain diverse teams.

These values all reinforce that, today, the very nature of business has changed–in order to succeed, business owners and leaders must focus on the most important part of their business: their multi-generational workforce.