Are you prepared for the multi-generational workforce?

by India Stock

CityAM reported that the UK is older than it has ever been before, with the average age hitting 40 – the highest average age ever estimated. Simultaneously, we are facing a not-too-distant future (2025) where Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce (Deloitte millennial survey). Are you prepared for an increasingly age-diverse workforce?

The three main players in today’s labour market are the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born between 1965-1980) and Millennials (born 1980-2000). An EY survey defined each group loosely as follows: ‘Boomers are team players and loyal, but don’t adapt well; Generation X are entrepreneurial-thinkers, but rank low on executive presence; and Millennials are tech-savvy, but not great team players.’

What problems are businesses going to face?

Shortage: For every two professionals leaving the workforce, only 1 enters. This mass exodus of skilled labourers will account for 13.5million jobs needing filling by 2025, with only 7million new professionals joining the workforce to plug the gap. Immigration will only count for 200,000 of that deficit; perhaps even less if legislation changes.

Disparity: Each age group has its own expectations and goals when it comes to their careers. They expect different levels of support, varying forms of reward, expect to stay in a company for diverse amounts of time and want different qualities from a prospective employer. This poses serious challenges for the attraction and retention of employees.

How can businesses respond?

Consider a flat team structure: encourage multiple generations to collaborate and use the diversity of skills and viewpoints to your benefit. Prevent conflicts in understanding by integrating the various age groups and achieving synergy. In many cases, for example in the retail sector, a team diverse in age is actually more representative of the typical consumer market and can provide more overall insight.

Think flexibly: each generation will appreciate and be motivated by different benefits, working hours, training schemes, etc. Businesses need to identity each generation’s needs and wants, and ensure that they are equipped to appeal to and reward each group. Accommodate for a range of training methods, remuneration packages and working cultures to reflect your workforce.

Challenge traditional attitudes: in this candidate led market, baby boomers are the fastest growing group. Businesses should acknowledge that age is not an indicator of ROI, and that baby boomers are not all on route to retirement. In terms of performance, Marks & Spencer manage and evaluate performance ‘the same way for workers of all ages.’ Retirement age is increasing and staggered retirements are becoming more popular. Take advantage of this. Staggered retirements are an opportunity to encourage job sharing, training and cooperation between generations, to ensure that skills are being transferred from one workforce to another.

As recruiters, our objective is to help you better understand and utilise this multigenerational workforce. Sarah MacKenzie, Senior Consultant on our Core Finance desk, emphasises the need to understand that one size does not fit all. ‘Companies with diverse workforces are increasingly offering equally diverse benefits packages to suit each generation’s unique motivations’, says Mackenzie.

If you would like to speak to Sarah or a member of our team regarding recruiting for and incentivising the multigenerational workforce, please get in touch now on 020 3617 9730 or info@communicate-rs.com