Employers Must Rethink When and How Different Generations Work

May 10, 2017
Inside HR
Affirmative Action
Diversity and Inclusion
Read time: 3 mins

From the Cold War and "Swinging Sixties" that characterized baby boomers' experiences to Gen Y coming of age with 9/11 and the creation of the Internet, the evolving socio-economic factors of the last several decades have shaped each working generation's unique perceptions and expectations of the working world.

A new multi-generational survey by Monster uncovers what makes each working generation (Boomer, X, Y and Z) unique, and how employers can attract, engage and manage each group separately and as a whole. Even the most essential workplace function, communication, is coming together across generations:

  • 84 percent of boomers (aged 51 to 70) and 88 percent of Gen X (aged 35 to 50) rank email as their workplace communication medium of choice.
  • 51 percent of Gen Y (aged 20 to 34) and 66 percent of Gen Z (aged 15 to 20) believe that texting is an important tool in the workplace.
  • 61 percent of Gen Z gravitate toward social media for workplace communications.

Technology. In some ways, technology is a common denominator among the generations: The majority of all groups (60 percent across generations) agree that digital tools are making them more productive in the workplace, but the similarities pretty much end there:

  • Roughly 75 percent of the digitally native Gen Z value laptops and smartphones in their workplace, in line with their desire for mobility on the job (49 percent versus 43 percent across all generations).
  • 74 percent of boomers and Gen X still rate desktop computers (74 percent) as valuable workplace technological tools, and 65 percent still view landlines this way.

In the middle, using a combination of tools, is the transitional Gen Y, or millennials, whose lives have been largely characterized by the continuous introduction of new technologies.

"As we help connect employers with great job candidates, we see a broad variety of preference for digital tools across generations," said Seth Matheson, Director of Talent Fusion by Monster. "While this is not particularly surprising, the variance does shed tremendous light on how employers must approach best communicating with job seekers at different levels in their careers, and where they should be making workplace investments to ensure the most engagement and productivity across their multi-generational workforce."

Working hours. Advances in technology have a varying degree of influence on how and where younger and older generations prefer to work. Gen Z and Y, for example, are most in favor of a job that offers telecommuting (59 percent and 55 percent, respectively, versus 53 percent across generations).

At the same time, it has begun to affect when all groups choose to work:

  • 56 percent of boomers (equal to the average across generations) feel that it doesn't matter what time you arrive to or leave from work, as long as you get your work done.
  • Gen X is most attracted to a job with flexible work hours (18 percent versus 11 percent across generations).

However, these evolving attitudes have not yet extended into each generation's approach to vacation:

  • 25 percent of workers across all generations plan to take no vacation time in the upcoming year.
  • 52 percent of boomers are comfortable being accessible outside of normal business hours (compared to 48 percent across all generations).
  • 40 percent of Gen Y report working the most during their last vacation (compared to 36 percent across generations).

"New technologies blur traditional work schedules across the generations, but it's clear from Monster's Multi-Generational Survey that these attitudes have not yet extended to widespread workplace culture," said Matheson. "The good news is that this data reveals clear-cut solutions to attracting and optimizing each generation of talent. Whether it's emphasizing flexibility for younger generations or offering unlimited time off to encourage employees to take necessary breaks, fostering workplace culture that reflects the modern age will help employers both attract and retain the best talent, as well as get the greatest return on their workforce investments at every level."

Source: CCH/Wolters Kluwer