Baby Boomers, or the generation born between World War II’s end and 1964, are set to retire in staggering numbers over the next several years. Although this generation has worked beyond the average retirement age, many will eventually leave the workforce. This will create a staffing vacuum for many companies, and a lack of senior talent to fill their shoes.
The upcoming generations include the Gen Xers, or those born into the mid-1970s, and Millennials, who were born in the late 1970s through mid-2000s. It’s from among these two groups that your next business leaders will emerge. Forming a plan to attract them now to your business means you can fill any gaps caused by retiring leaders quickly and efficiently from within your own company’s ranks.
Characteristics of Each Generation
Millennials (Gen Y) and Gen X share similar characteristics. Born into a world with simple technology, Gen X workers have learned along the way to use and love technology. Millennial workers are more comfortable with technology, and have never lived in a time without cell phones, movies on demand, and the Internet.
While Baby Boomers are comfortable with traditional modes of work and the accompanying structures, hierarchies, and benefits, Millennials eschew the traditional for the flexible. They seek a balance between work and home life and find it no problem to blend both into their lifestyle. They are hardworking, but it’s on their terms.
What Does Each Generation Want?
Each generation that passes through the workforce has different priorities. Among Baby Boomers, stability, health insurance, and a good retirement plan were the main concerns. Subsequent generations have shifted focus to include more flexible time, personal time, and ways to blend work-life balance into the equation.
If you understand what each generation finds desirable in the workplace, you can develop creative strategies to tweak your existing benefits structure so that you can attract and retain workers within the younger demographics.
What do the younger workers want?
- Millennials: Millennials crave experiences, personal time, and work-life balance. A company attractive to Millennials may have an open telecommuting policy, allowing workers to work from home for specific reasons. They may offer unpaid leave in order to continue volunteer work, or they may allow workers to accrue additional vacation time. Companies who seek to attract more Millennials to the workplace must embrace flex time and find ways to offer these benefits.
- Gen X: The Gen X workers are sometimes called the Bridge Generation because their lives span the era before technology, yet they embrace the technological changes that have since made lifestyles so different. Because they are in the middle, sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials, they often exhibit characteristics of both. They embrace traditional work methods but like the idea of flex time and telecommuting. They value good retirement packages and healthcare, but may be willing to make trade-offs, depending on their personal needs, for additional vacation time. You can more easily blend a new benefit package that shares commonalities between Gen X and Millennials to update benefits and make them more attractive to both generations.
The Gen X workers today are in middle to upper management, and that’s probably where your next company leaders will come from. It makes sense to begin recruiting them now. Tweaking benefits packages may be a simple way to acknowledge generational differences and keep an eye towards the future when those Baby Boomers will return and leave vacancies. The sooner you can fill the leadership pipeline within your company, the better you can maintain continuity of leadership from within.