It is 2021, the most exciting time to be an employee. If you are working with a corporation with at least, 100 employees, chances are that you are interacting with about three demographics every day; the Babyboomers, the Millenials and the ever-buzzing Gen-Zs. An interesting variety, I must say.
The baby boomers have different perspectives on work. For them, work is about security, being able to meet the needs of their families, and add value while at it. They are loyal, devoted and less risk-takers in terms of career transitioning and adventures. For them, there is work, there is family and being able to meet their family’s needs is quite a priority. They are the winners of long-term service awards, with ten years and fifteen years imprinted on a golden plaque. Isn’t that what employers love?
The millennials are more adventurous, more exciting, more willing to take risks and challenge the status quo. They are calculators, innovators and inventors. If they are not starting something, they are collaborating with someone to start something or putting their skills to use at a fast-moving enterprise.
Think about it, a couple of CEOs and notable co-founders around you are millennials. Whether it is Brian Chesky, the co-founder and CEO of Airbnb who celebrated his 40th birthday in August or Daniel Elk, the founder and CEO of music streaming service Spotify who is on his way to clocking 39, innovating is entrenched in the hearts of millennials. How can I forget the CEO of Facebook, sorry… Metaverse, who is the third richest person in the U.S with a net worth of $134.5 billion.
Coming home, you could think of Odun Eweniyi of Piggyvest, Razaq Ahmed and Edward Popoola of Cowrywise, Jessica Anuna of Klasha, and lots more. Frontliners breaking frontiers in different spaces… but there is something more interesting.
Not so different?
An HBR article co-authored by Eden King, Lisa Finkelstein, Courtney Thomas, and Abby Corrington posits that, while there might be differences in perspective about work, there is not so much difference in attitude to work asides from those created by stereotypes and meta-stereotypes.
For instance, a babyboomer thinks a millennial is too ambitious, and a millennial thinks a gen-Z is too fast-paced. A gen-Z thinks the babyboomer is bossy and the millennial is old-school, thus these stereotypes affect their attitude to work. An interesting pseudo cycle? Right? I am sure you are thinking about which category of stereotypes you’ve displayed unconsciously.
What do you do as a leader, supervisor, or HR manager for different generations?
- Find common grounds: No matter the generation, everyone wants to do work that is fulfilling, rewarding and impact-driven. Let this be part of your core values, that is expressed explicitly every day.
- Acknowledge their diverse needs: We already highlighted their different perspective about work. The babyboomers want job security, millennials want growth and development, and the gen-Zs? They just want to be happy and feel good doing impactful work. Acknowledging these needs helps you guide your thoughts in the right direction.
- Think out-of-the-box compensations: It is 2021 and compensations are no more limited to your monthly pay-check. It is stock options, stock ownership plan, performance bonuses and data allowance. It is education reimbursement, relocation assistance, onsite maternity care and food delivered at home. Different generations have different needs that matter to them and being able to meet those needs would distinguish you as an employer/supervisor/ HR manager.
- Embrace cross-learnings: As an organization, cross-learning sessions are quite useful in helping different generations connect. Having internal knowledge sharing sessions and listening to everyone share their perspective about generic topics opens up their mind about the different schools of thought. This enhances communication, freedom of expression and builds a healthy culture overall.
There are a couple of other things, but we are curious though. What has it been like having gen-Zs within your workforce? As a gen-Z, what would you wish your peers, colleagues and managers knew about you, and how you love to work? Leave a comment below.