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Benefits of a Multigenerational Workforce

Image shows and older businessman at a conference table with young adults discussing work and sharing ideas.

“For the first time in modern history, workplace demographics now span four generations, meaning that 20-year-old new hires can find themselves working side-by-side with colleagues who are older than they are by 50 years (or even more).” – AARP

A multigenerational workforce is increasingly becoming the norm around the world. While many are of the opinion that older workers and younger workers can't get along, research has found that a diverse and multigenerational labor force offers many benefits. The secret to unlocking the potential of your full workforce is to understand what motivates each generation and encouraging the sharing of ideas and values.

Characteristics of Generations in the Workplace

Baby Boom Generation
(Born 1946-1964)
Generations X and Y
(Born 1965-2000)
  • Value hard work; less work-life balance
  • Enjoy creative freedom and projects they can do in their own way and on their own time
  • Work well with leaders who are coaches (who facilitate rather than dictate)
  • Enjoy creative freedom and projects they can do in their own way and on their own time
  • Have strong interpersonal skills and value in-person communication; more likely to use meetings and phone calls to connect with others and coordinate work
  • Prefer interpersonal communication to be convenient and efficient; more likely to rely on social media, text messages and emails to connect with others and coordinate work
  • Motivated by the promise of influence and authority; competitive and driven by personal achievement
  • Motivated by the promise of career progression; thrive on being rewarded for good performance

The different generations can benefit from working together. Mastering new skills while building lasting relationships with younger workers can give older workers a sense of accomplishment. Similarly, learning from older workers will enhance the skills and competencies of younger workers and set them up for career advancement.


Sources:

Cennamo, L., & Gardner, D. (2008). Generational differences in work values, outcomes and person-organisation values fit. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 23(8), 891-906.

Cogin, J. (2012). Are generational differences in work values fact or fiction? Multi-country evidence and implications. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23(11), 2268-2294.

Jacobson, W. S. (2007). Two’s company, three’s a crowd, and four’s a lot to manage: Supervising in today’s intergenerational workplace. Popular Government, Fall.