Understanding generational differences in the workplace has become an important issue for companies to tackle as four generations are now working alongside each other for the first time in history. As companies once again focus on growth and expansion, it is more important than ever for organizations to engage, retain and motivate a diverse workforce to drive productivity and efficiency.
In order to build a solid employee engagement plan, HR and contingent staffing leaders must truly understand the differences, and, more importantly, the similarities of each generation when it comes to their motivations, perceptions and career goals.
In Randstad’s most recent Employment Engagement Study, we looked at how employees of different generations are most effectively engaged at work in a post-recession environment. We found several surprises, including unexpected similarities between the two most seemingly different generations: matures (born before 1960) and millennials (1982-1994).
While there are some obvious differences between these two generations, our study found that they have the most in common when it comes to their views on the workplace, careers and current jobs. For example, 89 percent of mature workers and 75 percent of millennials say they enjoy going to work every day, and a majority of both groups feels inspired to do their best at work (95 percent of mature respondents and 80 percent of millennials). However, this on-the-job satisfaction can be attributed to different factors. For millennials who are starting out in their careers, they are often focused on achieving career goals and moving up in their professions, while matures are likely closer to achieving their goals and appreciate opportunities to engage in the type of work they enjoy.
According to our study, millennials and matures also seem to have higher employee morale compared to other generations, with 69 percent of millennials and 64 percent of mature workers saying they experience positive energy at work – compared to a 53 percent average among other generational groups.
Millennials and matures also have similar thoughts on important skills essential to growing their careers, with flexibility, leadership and technology skills topping both of their lists.
We also asked employees how they viewed the current hiring landscape and economy. Again, millennials and matures feel similarly optimistic about the job market, expecting it to pick up in 2013 (67 percent and 55 percent, respectively). However, the millennial generation appears to have taken a greater hit from the recession, with 59 percent of respondents believing the economy has negatively altered their career plans, compared to only 35 percent of mature workers sharing this sentiment.
As the job market continues to heat up and more jobs become available, employers will continue to be faced with larger and more diverse talent pools. Understanding the perceptions, needs and expectations of workers across all generations can help a company in attracting and retaining the best talent, which will in turn produce better bottom line results.