In most businesses today, employees belong to one of four generations, which means leaders face the challenge of balancing the various needs, views and work styles across each generation with their own needs, goals and demands of the business.

One of the key factors to building a successful team is knowing how to engage and align all of your employees regardless of their age, and applying a variety of communication and retention strategies.

So here’s the break down as I see it… I’m an employee retention coach and work with leaders that employ, develop and lead a broad range of employees – and this quick overview might help you connect with them.

👉GEN X b. 1965-1980
Gen Xers are often referred to as latchkey kids which means they were largely neglected and ignored and left to look after themselves while both parents or a single parent entered the workforce. As a result they have developed a strong sense of independence and self-reliance in life, and at work they prefer to do things their own way.

They tend to believe that hard work is the key to getting ahead and are capable of managing multiple priorities. Having developed an independent streak early on, they are great at self-management and generally like to work alone, so judge them on their own merits, not the teams.

This generation are early adopters of technology, inventing a lot of our modern technology (the internet!), so they are highly adaptable, having grown up with the rapid advancement of technology.

A healthy work/life balance are important perks fro these employees and so they will challenge authority and the traditional structure of the Monday to Friday 9 to 5 ‘going to work’ model for employment… expect discussions around flex-time, job sharing and working from home options.

👉GEN Y b. 1981-1995 aka Millennials
This generation is plugged into technology all the time on multiple devices! Having grown up with technology, they have an innate ability to adapt to change and this trait makes them a valuable asset in fast paced and challenging environments and industries.

Gen Yers tend to be family-oriented and will seek jobs that offer freedom and flexibility with their work. They do value team work and collaboration which comes from the cooperative classroom environment they grew up with, so it’s not surprising they expect this in the workplace.

They will look for frequent and immediate feedback because they want to know how they are doing and how it affects the business. They will also seek out new challenges and enjoy meaningful work. This translates into an expectation of regular conversation, feedback and praise from you, their leader!

They want their opinions to matter and they want to be included and involved, so personal and professional development and ongoing education opportunities are important career considerations to offer this generation.

👉GEN Z b. 1996-2015 – the latest workforce generation
This is the generation that’s now starting to enter the workforce and it’s where a majority of my nieces and nephews fall into. Gen Z are known as ‘digital natives’ and they have plenty of ambition and drive. They are willing to work hard to make an impact provided they are connected and passionate about the cause or what the company stands for – this is an important element not to be overlooked.

As digital natives they are the gurus at multi-tasking but as you may have realised, they do have short attention spans… and this simply means you will need to provide a clear sense of purpose and direction for them.

🙋‍♀️HEADS UP An expected trend is this generation will job hop every 1-3 years unless professional development and opportunities for growth like mentoring are offered as benefits.

Like Gen Yers, they have grown accustomed to constant feedback, recognition and validation through social media and will naturally expect employers to maintain a regular dialogue with updates on their progress and how they are tracking – this is where gamification may add significant value.

🎯That’s an overview of the XYZ generations.

Whatever generation makes up your team I trust this assists. While conflicts are still likely to occur and there will be challenges in aligning different groups, the key is understanding and adapting to the various attitudes, life experiences, values, and ways of communicating that resonate with each generation.

In the end…
Embrace these differences, get curious about how to leverage their strengths and see them as a competitive advantage because by 2025 three quarters of the Australian workforce will be made up of Gen Y and Gen Z workers!

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