Diversity, equity, and inclusion are major focus areas for organizations this year and beyond. Aside from the moral imperative, diverse teams can solve business problems in more creative ways, helping your organization be more prepared for whatever the Future of Work has in store. This includes different kinds of diversity, from race and gender to socioeconomic status and age.

Generational diversity can create a stronger workforce through different life experiences, perspectives, and ideas. But different generational groups experience the workplace differently too. If you want to attract, engage, and retain a multigenerational team, it’s important to consider how the Future of Work affects each generational group differently. 

Hybrid and remote work are here to stay

Remote work is here to stay at many organizations, and each generational group feels a little differently about it. According to Hubble’s Should we ditch the office? report

  • Generation Z (<26 years old) are the most pro-office age group, interested in working remotely just one or two days per week long-term. They miss the modern perks of office space, from coffee and free food to weekly events and gym facilities. They’re also the most likely group to miss the office as a place to do focused work—probably because a much higher proportion live with parents or roommates compared to the other age groups. 
  • Millennials (26-40 years old) are the most likely to say they like remote work because it allows them more time with loved ones and increased focus. The majority would like to work remotely three or four days per week. They were the group most likely to note the negative impact of remote work on their physical health, and they also largely miss the modern perks of office space.
  • Generation X and Baby Boomers (>40 years old) are the most pro-remote age group. While the majority (36 percent) would like to work remotely three or fours days per week, they were the most likely group (21 percent) to say they’d like to work remotely every day. This group appreciates the extra flexibility remote work offers around childcare and are most likely to mention the positive environmental effect of remote work. Generation X workers and Baby Boomers are the least likely to dislike anything about remote work, but were most likely to be frustrated by poor team communication.

Despite some differences, the generational groups had a lot in common. All generations like remote work for the lack of commute and say they’re most likely to work from home if they’re not in the office. And they all miss meeting rooms and being near local restaurants and bars the most, and struggle with the lack of social interaction. 

Having office space and providing flexibility around when people come in can help your organization attain generational diversity. From there, get creative with benefits and perks that foster remote inclusion. For instance, offer a stipend that remote team members can use to cover co-working space or home office equipment and utilities. Or host team-wide retreats so remote team members can spend time in person with their colleagues. 

Reskilling for the jobs of the future

Most of today’s jobs hadn’t even been invented in 1940, and 85 percent of jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet. Organizations are already facing skill gaps, and reskilling is a good short-term and long-term solution to maintaining a skilled, multi-generational team. This can be particularly important for older team members, who may face age discrimination in the workplace.

Fifty-eight percent of companies say that closing skills gaps has become a higher priority since the pandemic began, and 69 percent said their companies engage in more skill building than they did before the crisis. But a successful employee development program should take learning preferences into account. 

The Learning Scientists explored some of the generational distinctions found in literature, sharing some possible differences:

  • Baby Boomers expect a more intimate learning environment. They prefer lectures that incorporate participation, reflection, and feedback. Additionally, Baby Boomers enjoy reading books cover to cover.
  • Generation X is considered the most independent generation. They prefer a structured environment that includes lectures and small group activities. Additionally, they gravitate towards self-directed educational opportunities that allow them to learn on their own time.
  • Millennials prefer a more constructivist learning environment. They are more inclined to look up information on search engines than in a book.
  • Generation Z equate listening to lectures to torture. They want to be actively engaged in their learning, not be passive bystanders. This generation prefers digital textbooks because they can easily access them from any device.

But The Learning Scientists also explained how these differences are more likely due to age effects, period effects, and scientific flaws and inconsistencies, rather than to generational differences. That is, these preferences are likely to change over time within each group, and the effects of the pandemic have likely affected learning preferences for each group. 

A modern learning management system can provide combined classroom, online, mobile and social learning in one platform so you have something for everyone. You might also offer things like mentorship programs for high-potential team members, or leadership coaching for managers. A well-rounded approach will yield the best results and help ensure you don’t leave any one generation behind.

Employee centricity

The pandemic made many people reevaluate their lives and careers, leading to a very competitive talent landscape. Employers that want to attract, engage, and retain their teams will need to be more employee-centric going forward. 

Paychex offers some ways employers might support their teams in more employee-centric ways:

  • Generation Z: Assistance with student debt, competitive salaries, financial incentives, tuition reimbursement, and formal training opportunities.
  • Millennials: Career development programs, monetary gifts, opportunities to give back, on-site daycare, and mortgage services.
  • Generation X: Monetary gifts, stock options, gift cards, tuition reimbursement, and mortgage services.
  • Baby Boomers: Flexible work policies (like reduced schedules, remote work, or flex hours), health care benefits, and retirement benefits.

These coincide with life changes each group is experiencing. Baby Boomers are nearing retirement, so you can offer them a slower transition if they’re not ready to leave the workforce just yet. Generation Z is more likely to be in entry-level roles, and eager to explore their career options. Millennials and Generation X may be looking forward to their next moves, whether that’s in their current career trajectory or in an entirely new direction. 

Supporting each of these groups toward their next career stage—and in their personal lives—can help you win the talent your business needs to succeed. This includes helping team members navigate challenges brought on by the pandemic. For instance, you can support working parents by offering flexible work schedules and generous leave policies to cover times their child may be home from school. You might also train managers to more effectively lead their newly remote or hybrid teams.

Final thoughts

The Future of Work came about more rapidly than anticipated. Stay in touch with your team members to learn where you can improve, and make changes as you’re able. Surveys can be a great tool to gather feedback, but make sure you collect demographic data so you can see how it impacts responses. Millennials and Generation Z will soon make up the majority of your workforce (if they don’t already), and it’s important to be intentional about hearing your Generation X and Baby Boomer team members. This will help you build a more inclusive multi-generational workforce.


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Generational Diversity: How the Future of Work Affects Groups Differently