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Workforce Planning: The Benefits Of A Multi-Generational Workforce
Date: Monday 12 June 2023
In my last article I wrote about 'Attracting and Maintaining Gen Z Talent’. However, this article is now widening the scope to not only look at one generational cohort, but to examine workforce planning with a multi-generational workforce and what makes them tick in the workplace.
Definition of a multi-generational workforce
For starters, what is a multi-generational workforce? According to the Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) a multi-generational workforce is: a workforce made up of multiple generations. This is partly due to advancements in healthcare, as people are now living longer, and more people are working past the usual retirement age.
What are the five main generations & what makes them tick in the workplace?
According to Purdue Global University :
“For the first time in history, there are five generations in the workplace. They are:
- Traditionalists—born 1925 to 1945
- Baby Boomers—born 1946 to 1964
- Generation X—born 1965 to 1980
- Millennials—born 1981 to 2000
- Generation Z—born 2001 to 2020”
Categorising people into generational cohorts is often done to try and understand each generation, and what they want? And what motivates them intrinsically and extrinsically? Experts like Dr. Bea Bourne, DM, faculty member in the School of Business and Information Technology at Purdue University Global, believe that significant historical events that happen during someone’s lifetime could have a direct effect on them and their beliefs and socials norms. Therefore, it could also be considered that people will have different priorities and needs at different stages of their lifetime.
BambooHR suggests that it is arguable that an employee in a later stage of life will likely have different set of expectations or different values/wants when it comes to their professional workplace, than perhaps a younger co-worker. For example, maybe a recent graduate entering the workforce for the first time versus an employee in their fifties, both theoretically have been shaped by a different set of life experiences having grown up and entered the workforce during different times.
BambooHR has also defined certain characteristics found in the different generations. For example, ‘Baby Boomers’ born between 1946-1964, have been found to have the following traits, loyalty, live to work mentality and their key motivator is financial stability. ‘Generation X’ born between 1965-1979, have been found to be self-reliant, open to learning new technologies and their key motivator is work life balance. ‘Millennials’ born between 1980-1995, are known to be tech savvy and ambitious with their key motivator being career growth. ‘Generation Z’ born from 1996-present, are known to be tech natives and independent, with their key motivator being learning with a purpose.
What are the benefits of a multigenerational workforce
“Having a multigenerational workforce can, and should, be a distinct advantage for companies today. The wide range of ideas and knowledge from a broad group of people can actually serve the company well, and help employees excel in their work” .
Paul Rubenstein wrote in an article for HR Zone that one way of unlocking the benefits of a multigenerational workforce is to embrace its generational diversity. The article further states that this can be done by business leaders, HR personnel, and managers introducing practical policies that are created using people analytics. With workforce planning, businesses can create diversified and motivated employees which is conducive to a business’s long-term success.
The Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) also lists 5 benefits that can come from nurturing and understanding a multigenerational workforce which can be seen in the graph below.
In short, a lot of companies probably have a multi-generational workforce or at least a mix of one or two/three generations. Due to the sector, company size or age of the company itself. Therefore, after reading the above research, it appears that having a basic understanding of how a multigenerational workforce can affect your company culture and work output is extremely important and that this can be done thourgh workforce planning and understanding the different benefits that each generation brings e.g., a wealth of knowledge and experience and a greater understanding of new technologies and openness to change.