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Are the Workforce Generations All that Different?

September 9, 2015
5 min read
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No matter how much time passes, older generations will always complain about younger ones, and vice versa. But often it’s managers who get stuck in the middle; 75% of managers say they find managing a multi-generational workforce challenging, and 77% say they struggle with the different work expectations among generations. But you’d be surprised at how similar the working generations actually are, as well as the steps you can take to make the workplace a better environment for everyone.

Different Work For Different Folks

Before we point out the ways in which every working generation works similarly, we’d be remiss not to point out some ways in which they’re different. Writing for Business Insider, Vivian Giang (@vivian_giang) provides a brief breakdown of how each generation works:

"Millennials are tech-savvy, but aren't great team players. Gen X-ers are entrepreneurial-thinking, but rank low on executive presence. And last, but not least, Boomers are team players and loyal, but don't adapt so well."


CC-Click-ToTweetBird-01@Vivian_Gian, Business Insider writer, sums up her interpretation of each generation in the workforce: 


So yes, each generation in the workplace has different aspects tied to them. However, when you take a closer look, you’ll find that people of different ages have more in common than they do in difference. This is largely because many of the things employees value (such as efficiency and fairness) don’t change with the times.

A Need For Fairness

All three workforce generations behave a bit differently, but they tend to have more in common than we think. For one, no generation is willing to put up with unfair work practices and selfish bosses. In a recent survey, workers were asked to pick what values they value most in their bosses, and 35% of workers across all generations said they valued ethics and fairness.


CC-Click-ToTweetBird-0135% of employees across all workforce generations say fairness from bosses ranks high on values. 


The working generations also agree when it comes being recognized for their work; 29% of Millennials, 26% of Gen Xers and 23% of Boomers say they value a willingness for leadership to acknowledge their accomplishments. Everyone, from your newest intern to your most veteran executives, want you to know how much effort they put into the work they do.

They All Search on Mobile

Another aspect all three of the working generations share is how they’re looking for work. Mobile recruiting is on the rise, and candidates across every generation are realizing this. Research shows that regardless of the age group, candidates are searching for jobs on mobile now more than ever. Data from this year reveals:

 As you can see, Baby Boomers search for jobs on mobile considerably less than their younger counterparts. However, considering many people still consider them to be relative Luddites when it comes to technology, this number is surprisingly high. The takeaway here should be that no matter what generation you’re trying to attract, you should invest in a more mobile-oriented recruiting strategy.


CC-Click-ToTweetBird-01Mobile outreach to all workforce generations may not be so farfetched. Check out the numbers:


What this means for you is that while you should still tailor your approach to your employees, don’t feel like you have to twist yourself into a knot trying to reconcile the differences between your older and younger workers. You can easily find common ground and explore new options that will make all your employees better employees, no matter what generation they come from.

Want a hiring and performance solution that gives everyone what they want? Try a demo of ClearCompany, which offers everything from applicant tracking to video interview to performance management.

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