Various studies show that by 2025, the generation of Millennials (those born somewhere between the early eighties and mid-nineties) will comprise the majority of the global workforce – 75% of it to be exact.
Together with Generation Z (those born somewhere between the mid-nineties and early 2010s), Millennials will dominate the workplace in the not too distant future. For HR, this means that it’s important to know some of the characteristics of both these generations – think of their work styles, values, and believes – of workers in order to provide them with an optimal work environment.
About Generation Y (a.k.a. Millennials)
Without wanting to generalize too much, after all, there are lots of differences between people from the same generation, there are some characteristics that are believed to be ‘typical’ for Millennials:
- They tend to regularly change jobs
- They greatly value benefits other than salary alone
- They thrive on collaboration
- They value flexibility and work to live
About Generation Z
Generation Z, also referred to as Digital Natives or the iGeneration, is the cohort that comes after the Millennials. While they don’t necessarily are that much younger than their predecessors, Generation Z does have a sometimes rather different perspective on work:
- They attach great importance to the security a job can provide them with both in their personal and professional life
- They don’t mind working individually (or having an individual office rather than an open space)
- They are very tech-savvy
- They are aware of their own (presumed) weaknesses such as a lack of communication skills
What comes next?
The alphabet ends with the letter Z, so then what comes after generation Z? A cohort born between 2011 and 2025 that’s been baptized Generation Alpha, an idea that first came from social researcher and author Mark McCrindle. While the Alphas are still super young, we already some of the factors that (will) characterize this group:
- They learn differently
- They are (literally) immersed in technology
- They are used to a top-notch online (customer) experience
Why we should embrace generational differences in the workplace
Back to the generations in the workforce now. While some say generational differences in the workplace are a myth, it is a fact that each generation is born in a different era with its own economic and political climate. For this reason alone, we all look at the world of work through a unique lens. Having people of various ages – and therefore various perspectives – in your workforce has several advantages for your organization:
- It drives innovation
- It creates skill diversity
- It helps your organization understand a wider customer and candidate audience
- It leads to better decision-making
These are just a few examples of the benefits a multigenerational workforce can bring. Of course, age in itself doesn’t drive diversity (just like gender, ethnicity or geographical locations don’t), but it does play a role.
How to manage generational diversity in the workplace
The global workforce currently consists of five different generations and companies employing up to four (or five) different generations are, therefore, no exception. When it comes to managing generational diversity in the workplace, every generation has its own preferences, expectations, and traits for employers to consider. A few elements to consider in that regards are (among others):
- Adapt your recruiting strategies
- Create age-diverse teams to work on projects
- Avoid age-related bias
- Talk to your employees and ask them what they think
- Adapt your communication depending on who you are talking to
Millennials vs. Generation Z
The infographic below gives you a glimpse of who the Millennials and Generation Z are as two distinct demographics in today’s workforce—with each having unique skills and traits that could affect the way they view or pursue success in the workplace.
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