Recognizing Generational Differences in Your Hiring Process

Technology has completely changed the way in which people communicate, think, and work. As such, your company is not the same as it was fifty years ago, or even ten years ago for that matter!

In the modern and ever-evolving world of work, several distinct generations of employees are working together in a way that would have been unimaginable a decade ago.

The result? Cultural dynamics unlike any workforce in history, with a wide range of perspectives on what work should look like, and how companies should evolve (or not) to adapt to modern demands.

Today, we’ll explore the nature of generational differences in the workforce, and what this means for your business now and in the future.

Generational differences, explained

Every generation has a different outlook on their careers, which is highly linked to the time period in which they grew up and entered the workforce. As a result of these differences, professional communication between generational groups can be difficult. With different values, approaches, beliefs and communication styles, finding common ground takes effort.

Now, you may be thinking… teams throughout history have been made up of multiple age categories, right? What makes now so different?

While it is true that workplaces have traditionally been age-diverse, the dynamic in the past has been a bit more linear than it is today. The traditional model of work involved an older group of individuals with superiority and the power to hire and fire, and a younger generation looking to get their foot in the door. The corporate world was understood as a system where you could “climb the ladder”, and it was made clear that power related heavily to seniority.

Juggling generations, and COVID-19

Today’s workforce is undergoing massive transformation. Made up of not one, not two… but four generations of working professionals, everyone is striving for jobs that align with their preferred working style, and what they believe the system as a whole should look like.

The oldest generation in our current workforce are referred to as the Baby Boomers. Born between the 1940s and 1960s, this generation did not grow up with technology, but were introduced to it in mid-life, at the dawn of the internet age. As this group nears retirement, they are more likely to be set in their working ways and less likely to embrace change than other generations.

Members of Gen X, born anywhere from the mid-1960s to 1980, are more technologically-savvy than their seniors with the rise of personal computers occurring in their time. However, this group still greatly values face-to-face interaction, and are all about the values of hard work and education.

Following Gen X are the infamous Millennials. Born in the 1980s and 1990s, this group grew up at the peak of the technological revolution. The first to have phones and other devices at their fingertips in their youth (or at least young adulthood), this generation is highly tech-savvy, as well as intrinsically motivated. Rather than worrying about hours and bonuses, they desire a place where they can contribute to a purpose beyond themselves. They want to see results, not just log hours.

Finally, we have Gen Z, affectionately nicknamed the ‘Zoomers’ due to their entrance into the workplace just as COVID-19 ravaged the world. Born in the late 1990s onwards, Gen Z never witnessed a culture that wasn’t centered around technology, and see social media as a natural extension of their physical lives.

Why this all matters

Technology and COVID-19 have escalated this already changing world of work. With traditional office culture coming face-to-face with the sudden rise of remote and hybrid work, and fueled by Gen Z’s technological savvy, the entire economy has been met with the need to pivot to keep up. Companies that stick to rigid, old ways and disregard the realities of today’s world will risk going out of business. At the very least, they will feel the weight of today’s ‘talent shortage’ if they don’t listen to what the workforce is so clearly telling them.

Companies must engage with the workforce dynamic, rather than resist it, if they want to continue to be profitable. Not only will embracing the future of work prevent costly mistakes and unsatisfied workers, it will also provide a competitive edge and a more transparent culture.

Need some additional support with managing a multi-generational team? ISC Resources can show you the way. Let’s talk!