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There are five generations working side-by-side in many of our workplaces. Age diversity can be attributed to the fact that later retirement and longer life expectancy means that the Traditionalists (born prior to 1946) and Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) will be working alongside Generations X (born 1965-1976), Y (commonly known as millennials, born 1977-1995) and Z (born 1996-present).
As I mention in a previous blog, diversity as a whole, having a range of ages, genders, ethnicities, backgrounds, and life experiences within an organization is essential for a business’s bottom line. There’s a lot to be said for the benefits of attracting each diversity factor to your workforce, but for the purposes of this blog, we will focus on age.
Without age diversity, a company will receive a narrow range of insights, from people within the same demographic cohort, many of whom base their perspectives and interactions on the same cultural experiences and generational trends. In other words, without age diversity (among other factors) an organization runs the risk of “groupthink”. This type of thinking only serves to hinder innovation, threatening a business’s ability to adapt to their ever changing landscape. So how can you attract a range of ages to your business to help encourage an innovative, diverse dialogue?
While the Traditionalists and Baby Boomers tend to be long-serving, loyal employees who are generally more embedded within the organizations they work in, Generations X, Y and Z are less inclined to view their organization as an “employer for life” and are more likely to move between employers.
Therefore, you need to make sure that when they do decide to move on; your business is top of their list of potential companies they want to work for. Various reports show that the majority of employees within each of these generations have differing priorities from the generations that preceded and indeed followed them. So, you will need to tailor your employer branding strategy, understanding the need to position yourself as an employer of choice for Generations X, Y and Z, in a bid to achieve age diversity in your workforce. Here’s how:
Let’s start with Generation X, the group of employees born roughly between 1965 and 1976. Some of the world’s most prominent entrepreneurs and technological innovators are part of this generation, including Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, Elon Musk, the co-founder and CEO of Tesla and Larry Page, one of the founders of Google. Generation X witnessed the contrast between a computer-free world growing up, and the impact of changing technology and digital innovations as they entered the world of work. Therefore Generation X-ers tend to appreciate the magnitude of digital innovations, and often value forward thinking organizations.
Therefore, if you want to appeal to this demographic, highlight via your talent attraction strategies that your organizational culture is an “intraprenerial” one, i.e. – you encourage ideas sharing and innovation from all areas of the business. You also need to emphasize that your business can stay ahead of digital transformations, and that you embrace, as opposed to fear, disruption within your industry. Think about ways in which your business has recently evolved to adapt to a changing landscape; from your product offering and customer service strategy, to your internal operations. Where appropriate, reference this on your attraction platforms, linking to any press releases or industry accolades.
It is also worth noting that our What Workers Want report found that the majority of Generation X regard work-life balance as being highly important when job searching. This is because they are more likely to have priorities outside of their professional remit, such as responsibilities for family members. Specifically, the report found that Generation X-ers, more so than any other generation, are willing to negotiate on salary if they can secure other benefits. Aspects such as flexible hours, holiday, healthcare and the option to work from home should therefore feature prominently in your talent attraction strategy.
Now onto millennials. Whilst regional experiences will vary, broadly speaking, this is the generation who endured the Great Recession of 2007-2009 (a recession that the IMF deemed as the worst global economic decline since the 1930s). However, this is also the generation who have enjoyed the career opportunities brought to them by technological developments, liberal migration policies and the rise of international business. As such, this age bracket are believed to be particularly tenacious, ambitious and adventurous in their careers.
A report by PWC states how this ambition is conveyed in the way millennials demand constructive feedback and development from their employer, expecting progression within their role and during their time at that organization. Millennials don’t want to be bound by borders either. 71 per cent of the respondents in the report say they plan to work overseas at some point during their career and are aware of the opportunities available to them. Our What Workers Want report also found that this generation find performance-related bonuses motivating, more so than Baby Boomers and Generation X.
From the above, we can deduce that millennials prioritize career progression, reward, training and development, as well as the opportunity to work abroad when considering an employer. Thus, if you want to appeal to millennials, you will need to adjust your talent attraction strategy to emphasize these elements accordingly, whether it’s a matter of communicating internal career success stories, publishing international mobility case studies or amending the job adverts you publish online.
Finally onto Generation Z. The generation who grew up on social media and are thought to spend up to 10 hours a day online pursuing a number of activities, from socializing, to job searching.
There is evidence to suggest that employer brand reputation is incredibly important to this generation of workers more so than any other. Steve Morris, Marketing Director of learndirect also explains how: “There is a lot of parental influence. This age group will discuss with their family a potential employer, the role being offered and the salary. For many Gen Zs and their parents, the employer brand is often more important than the initial job they will do.”
When you couple the above two findings, it becomes clear that if organizations want to attract Generation Z, they will need to invest in developing a strong online employer branding strategy which showcases exactly why they are key players in their field. This could include publishing information about your industry recognition on social media, your website, as well as in any press releases.
Of course, these generational traits do not apply to every member of that generation. There will be nuances within and overlaps between each generation. Therefore this advice is intended for you to use in order to cover your bases when crafting your talent attraction strategy, so that you can appeal to as many ages as possible. This will further your chances of getting an age-diverse range of talent coming through the door for interviews, and hence, achieving age diversity within your workforce.
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