Monthly Archives: December 2017

Working with a Multi-Generational Workforce


During the holidays, as you are sitting around the dining room table with your extended family and friends, take a good look around. You have your great aunt who is a traditionalist and cannot understand why your cousin’s wife didn’t prepare the potato dish using your great-grandmother’s family recipe. You have your mother, who is shooting you a dirty look because your college-aged son is wearing shorts and a baseball hat at the dinner table. You have your teenaged niece that has taken 223 selfies and is picking the best one to post on her Instagram account while your Uncle Larry is busy telling stories about his recent hunting trip while your vegan cousin looks visibly ill. And then there’s you—trying to figure out how it is possible that all of these people are somehow related, not just to you, but to each other. Sound familiar? Perhaps it’s just a holiday dinner, but when you really think about, it may also represent most workforces at most companies.

Workforces are made up of multiple generations and many, many backgrounds. While we value each generation, they can become challenging to manage and can be even more challenging to develop recruitment and retention programs around generational differences. Like most things, the key is understanding some generational tendencies and how best to work with them.

BABY BOOMERS: Baby Boomers are people that are currently in their early 50’s up through their mid-70’s. They are motivated by things that provide some sense of security, like decent health insurance, an available savings program, and a decent salary. They did not grow up with technology and spent the good part of their young lives trying to adjust the “rabbit ears” on the TV to try and get a decent picture. They are CAPABLE of learning and using technology, they just didn’t grow up with it. They value authority figures and want to work for a company and a manager that they respect.

GEN X: Yes, believe it or not that Generation X that we tried so hard to understand now are in their mid-late 30’s and 40’s. They have experienced some challenging times in our workplaces (like 9-11 and the recessions) and so they also value job security and a decent salary. They are more technology driven than the Boomers and did not need to be trained as much on how to use things like a personal computer, because it was part of their upbringing. This generation likes to be challenged and doesn’t typically find value in staying in one place or in a stagnant job. To keep this generation happy, you need to provide continued growth or they will look elsewhere for it.

GEN Y: Meet our 20 and early 30 somethings; but move quickly, because they do too. This group of workers are multi-taskers that are part of the mobile technology generation. They do not know a world without cell phones and want to be paid for a job well done. These are our millennials, who value making a difference, collaboration and need to feel valued in everything that they do. While some may say this generation lacks work ethic, we would argue that they just look at work ethic differently. While they value job security, they value CAREER growth and CAREER security more. We’ve talked about this group of employees before, and how they treat their careers as packed suitcases that they like to keep adding contents to, but always being ready to pick it up and move if the right job or opportunity comes along. Ironically, these employees are fiercely LOYAL, if they believe your organization and their job is part of a greater vision. Keep them engaged by defining your mission and their part in it. In addition, let them have a life outside of work or incorporate their personal values into their careers.

Gen Z: Our newest part of our workforce – recent grads and those that are in their early 20’s or younger. This workforce was raised on mobile technology, immediate responses and social media. They expect to be paid well, and most are, because the employment market currently dictates higher salaries based on the lack of available workers. They don’t like to wait around for things, and expect a company to be fast moving and up to date in terms of technology. They believe (like most of today’s workforce) that it is most important to get your work done, whether that takes 40 hours, 50 hours, or 34 hours in a week and appreciate the flexibility that many companies now offer. They like challenge, they like change, and they deal well with it because they have grown up surrounded by change. They, too, value collaboration but they value personal job satisfaction just as much.

While these profiles are just generalities, it is important to take some time to look around your own “dining room table” and understand who is sitting there, and adjust your strategic decisions accordingly.

An award-winning staffing expert in Southeastern Wisconsin in manufacturing, clerical, professional and light industrial placements, Nissen Staffing Continuum can assist you in finding great employees in Wisconsin for both your short-term and long-term needs. As your strategic partner in a tight employment market, we’ll help you take your staffing initiatives to the next level, whether it’s onsite programs, direct hire placement, temp-to-hire programs or temporary staffing. Our recruiters are supported by a sourcing department dedicated to finding great employees for our clients. For more information about how we can help you find great employees, contact us today and allow us to help you with your HR needs so you can focus on your company’s success!