bridge the generational gap to create a rich and diverse workforce

May 29, 2017 Cindy Keaveney

With four generations now working side by side in today’s talent market, organizations around the world are benefitting more than ever from age diversity in the workplace. It’s a fantastic dynamic; not only do these generational groups share experience, knowledge and work insight, but it’s all facilitated by cutting-edge technology, leading to a more tightly woven workforce.

As a senior leader at Randstad Sourceright, seeing what younger workers can offer to our organization is incredibly reassuring. As workers who grew up in the post-digital world, millennial and Gen Z employees possess outstanding digital skills, have a deep understanding of how best to leverage social networks personally and professionally, and are exceptionally adept at sharing their experience with a large network of friends and peers. These skills are important to nearly every organization around the world, and our latest Talent Trends survey of human capital and C-suite leaders confirms this.

As an overall market trend, having multiple generations in the workforce is cited by 49% as either having a positive impact or transforming their business, and 41% say millennials moving into leadership roles has had the same effect. A majority (53%) also report they are hiring more digital technology professionals to support HR, which is the most often cited area in which employers are spending more. This isn’t surprising since HR digitalization has been a priority for many organizations around the world for some time, and companies now realize digitally savvy talent is essential.

cohesion requires work, understanding

As great as they are to an organization, today’s younger generations of workers require employers to understand how to specifically engage, incentivize and retain them. Gen Z and millennials are always open to opportunities that appeal to their sense of purpose, so companies need to do all they can to attract and retain great young talent. It begins with creating a highly positive candidate experience as they first come in contact with the company, and continues all the way through their journey as a new hire and onto a tenured employee.

Our survey reveals that half plan to invest more in technology to improve the candidate experience during recruitment, and 52% will do so to improve the talent experience in the workplace. Clearly, human capital leaders believe engagement from the candidate stage and onward is critical to their organization’s business success.

Aside from better using technology, how can you enhance the engagement of younger workers? Keep in mind that Gen Z workers value feedback, so nurture their professional growth by providing regular input. According to a study conducted by Randstad U.S. examining the work habits of the two youngest generations in the workforce, Gen Z employees place even greater value on regular feedback than millennials. However, both generations want employers to listen to their ideas and suggestions. Companies then should build a culture that encourages open and continuous manager and peer feedback.

the power of experience

With this in mind, mentoring programs will be especially important to ensuring a cohesive workforce. More experienced talent — Gen X and baby boomers — can play a big role in this. With decades of professional experience, these more mature generations have worked through many changes in the workplace, such as the rise of digitalization, automation and the flexible workforce. More importantly, by soliciting their input and participation in the transition of leadership to younger workers, the opportunities for connection and collaboration increase.

An increasing problem for organizations is the dramatically shifting demographics in many industrialized markets. Large numbers of older workers are headed for retirement, which could potentially lead to loss of knowledge and talent scarcity. In fact, the Talent Trends survey revealed that baby boomers leaving the workforce is the most-cited pain point by human capital leaders. It’s also the second most important reason for paying attention to talent innovation.

Companies and sectors currently employing a lot of talent close to retirement should prepare now for the forthcoming exodus. For instance, by creating more flexible work hours and arrangements, employers could entice workers to delay their exit from the labor market. Also, facilitating knowledge transfer – through mentorship, for instance – will help remaining employees to more easily take on new responsibilities.

Having multiple generations in our workforce is unquestionably beneficial to Randstad Sourceright, and I have to believe you feel the same. Each brings a unique perspective, knowledge and skill set to create a rich and diverse organization. It’s not without challenges, so you need to be aware of what they are and develop a strategy for engaging your entire workforce. You can start by understanding how your peers around the world are addressing these challenges; download our latest Talent Trends report on the digitalization of HR, automation and flexible talent.

About the Author

Cindy Keaveney

Cindy Keaveney is a leading business and human capital executive with more than 30 years of experience transforming organizations by building high-performing teams that produce profitable growth, develop industry-leading products and create corporate strategies in complex, changing environments. As the leader of Randstad Sourceright’s global HR team, Cindy ensures that the best strategies are in place to deliver a stand-out talent experience for all of our people. This encompasses driving best practices and new approaches when it comes to talent acquisition, talent management, engagement and development, and further enabling cross-cultural collaboration and talent mobilization.

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