The Generational Shift | Team Talk vol. 2

Right now, everyone can agree companies today are facing several hiring and retention challenges. One of those challenges employers are facing is the generational shift that has begun. Employers are finding themselves competing against new “work from home” start-ups offering $20 per hour or $300 per day with flexible schedules targeting Millennials and Gen Z’ers! All the while, employers recognize the necessity to train and replace the soon to be retiring Baby Boomers, but the Millennials and, more so, the Gen Z’ers are asking companies: “Why should I work here?”

Employers, this is a time to think out of the box! In two years, Gen X’ers and Millennials will make up 50% workforce, and in four more years, Gen Z’ers, (yes, which include those born in 2000) will make up 20% of the workforce. For the first time in over 30 years, Baby Boomers will be in the minority. 

The shift is happening. 

This generational workplace shift forces companies to evaluate traditional leadership and development processes. Companies are and will be competing against edgy, modern, flexible, cause-worthy, trendy, start-up work from home opportunities that lure the younger generation in. 

So, how do you keep employees of all generations fulfilled and staying put?

Employee Development.

Employee development is not filled just with the formality process you have been used to anymore. Employee development is about training, engaging, cultivating, motivating, mentoring, and coaching. It is about developing the individual based on their set of strengths and weaknesses regardless of age. Employers need to meet their employees where they are. 

Let’s break down each generation: 

  • Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) come with years of experience and knowledge. Boomers are known for their strong work ethic often called “workaholics “and value the significance of career accomplishments. This generation was born in a world with limited technology, Baby Boomers prefer face to face communication over electronic. 
  • Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) is the generation to first usher the idea of work/life balance. Gen X’ers are the result of latch-key parenting which has made them extremely independent and despise micro-managing. Gen X’ers were born during the birth of technology. 
  • Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) is the largest in the workforce already. Millennials are the start-ups innovators. Millennials crave work/life balance with flexibility. Smarter not harder sums up Millennials. 
  • Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2015) is the first generation to grow up completely wireless. Gen Z’ers are the most creative but have the shortest attention spans. This generation is more connected than any other generations. 

With all these differences, problems will arise in the workforce. But the first step is understanding the differences and then, adopting and customizing employee development. 

So, where do you begin?

  1. Listen. What are your employees wanting? Employees of all generations value communication. 
  2. Customize. Develop each employee based on their strengths. There is no such thing as one size fits all development plan. 
  3. Adopt. As a company, you must utilize various methods to deliver effective results. Different generations will be best effective when employers meet them where their strengths lie.

Employee development is the number one most valuable and important aspect of employee retention. As the Baby Boomers approach retirement, successful employee development is vital for company success. 70% of employees say they would leave their current job for a company with strong employee development. 

Can you afford not to cultivate a culture individual employee development?

Here are some ideas you can implement today with zero or little cost:

  1. Implement a mentorship program. Bring the generations together to ensure all the skills and experience is passed on to the up-and-coming generations.
  2. Create job shadowing. Allow employees a chance to work with other departments. This allows you to know if you have the right people in the right seat. 
  3. Start a book club or lunch and learns. Employee development includes developing the person. When you meet employees of all ages, they will become a better employee. 
  4. Establish an employee council comprised of employees of all generations to share and discuss innovative ideas on development.
  5. Create an atmosphere and culture of growth.

Employers cannot ignore hiring and retention challenges facing them. Companies must fortify employee development that targets every individual of every generation. Companies will not be able to compete and grow their workforce if the challenges are not meet head-on. Millennials and Gen Z’ers are wanting fulfillment. Baby Boomers are not ready to retire…yet. Companies need to create development that not only meets the individual employee needs today, but promotes long-term, big picture company growth that sustains retention. 


Marcie Richardson

With over 20 years of HR experience, Marcie understands the struggles companies face in compliance regulation and policy structure. She recognizes that effective company culture and policies start with how we treat employees. As the Director of Human Resources for Guarantee Restoration Services in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she values the need for a strong company culture to ensure operational continuity. Marcie obtained her IICRC in WRT and ASD because she believes to truly understand the needs of each employee, you need to understand their job. Marcie also holds a Louisiana Department of Insurance License in Health, Life & Accident.

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