Marketing February 18, 2015 Last updated September 18th, 2019 2,016 Reads share

From Traditionalists to Gen Z: How to Cater to Everyone In the Workplace

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Here are the five types of workers we can expect to see filling our offices this year.

#1. Traditionalists

(13%; born between 1922-1943).

Traditionalists are the older and often wiser section of the workforce, having had more experience in times of widespread hardship, such as the Great Depression and World War II.

As a result, they tend to be more conservative and risk-averse; always thinking about the best route for the company and striving to find the most cost-effective solutions. This can often make them seem frugal-minded or restrictive, but these qualities have their value.

Although not technologically minded, the traditionalist tends to have greater respect for the standard rules of the workplace and much prefer face to face communications over any other channel.

How to give them what they need

In return for their sage advice and in-depth knowledge of your company, it’s important not to give traditionalists anything too high risk or far out from their comfort zone. Make sure they have plenty of opportunities for interpersonal engagement (whether that is meetings or collaborative tasks) and always disseminate public information through a range of channels.

Traditionalists don’t like to be micromanaged, so allow them to get on with their work whilst still offering the chance to learn new skills. Finally, these older workers will expect full medical benefits and the option to reduce hours to part-time in favor of retirement.

#2. Baby Boomers

(26.4%; born between 1944-1964)

Baby Boomers are fiercely independent and known for their ‘workaholic’ behavior. Unlike younger generations, they work to live rather than live to work, and so value the opportunity to squeeze in extra hours or work overtime as they strive for future security.

Boomers like their traditional tools such as pens and notepads, calculators and paper calendars; however that doesn’t mean they’re not open to learning or using technology.

They thrive on teamwork, group projects, and collaboration, seeing them as opportunities to assert themselves and perform to company expectations. Many Gen X workers, however, believe that Boomers are too bound by corporate rules and policies.

How to give them what they need

You must give your Boomers lots of room for flexible teamwork and the chance to make decisions independently. Like Traditionalists, they will prefer lots of face to face interaction and won’t enjoy micromanagement.

Boomers will also expect a reassuring post-retirement plan and are likely to want more time off in their later years as a result of later retirement (including paid sabbaticals). Be sure to provide plenty of opportunities for them to mix with younger workers, where they can pass on their knowledge and expertise for a smoother workflow.

#3. Generation X

(19.8%; born 1965-1980)

Gen Xers are dependably self-reliant, driven by results and have enough life experience in marriage, relationships and real estate to really be a true asset. Often referred to as the life and soul of the office, the Gen Xers will never be afraid to ask for what they want and often gravitate towards the idea of being an entrepreneur rather than be tied to an employer.

Younger generations (millennials) often see Gen Xers as being jaded and bitter, having missed out on many of the opportunities that Gen Ys now have.

How to give them what they need

Generation X is the first generation whose retirement will not be covered by social security; therefore, they’re likely to want reassuring pension plans in place (401(k) in the US) along with the dollar amounts to match (amanet.org).

Stimulate Gen Xers with challenging and demanding assignments that allow them to show off their skills, ideally in management and leadership. Being the first generation to also value a work-life balance, they’ll want a flexible work schedule; generous holiday allowances and the right job perks that allow them to live a healthy lifestyle.

As great mediators, Gen Xers can be useful for ironing out cross-generational conflicts in the office or facilitating collaboration.

#4. Generation Y

(27.7%; born 1981-2000)

Often named the ‘Technology generation’, Gen Ys are desired for their tech-savvy and socially conscious outlook. Often more globally minded than their older colleagues, they bring innovation; creativity and excitement to the workplace and are seen as ‘the gold standard’ regarding the recruitment process.

Avid users of social media and mobile devices, Gen Ys are competitive and confident and are also likely to branch off on their own in business or make things happen for themselves. Rather than annual performance reviews, they much prefer daily feedback from their mentors (although this can make Gen Xers perceive them as optimistic and needy).

How to give them what they need

Not as concerned with a rich salary or saving for retirement, Gen Ys will need plenty of job perks and opportunities for learning and development as they strive to become the best in their field.

Like Gen Xers, Gen Ys are likely to want flexible work hours and plenty of holiday allowance to accommodate their need for travel and adventure. Many businesses are still reluctant to trust employees enough to access apps and emails from home, but companies like Samsung are combating this with campaigns like their Work From Home week back in January.

Gen Ys will like to be given the space to make independent choices, but not before being given specific tasks on which to work for the day/week. Allow them to use the technology and tools that they require to do their best work, and facilitate regular open forums where they can interact freely with older workers.

Finally, let Gen Ys know that their ideas are valued and respected in the workplace. They will also thrive in a laid-back work environment where their work is measured by results and not by time or investment.

#5. Generation Z

(0%; born 2000-present)

Gen Zs started entering the workforce. Although little is known about how this will change working practices, what we do know is that technology has formed a large part of this generation’s life from birth, and the use of new and emerging tools will likely be second nature to them.

They are highly influenced by our media-saturated world, not least of all by platforms like Facebook. Not only will the use of technology be necessary to them, but they’ll also use it to demonstrate extraordinary abilities like app-building, web coding or shooting an indie movie.

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