I came across this study from Randstad US the other day that speaks to something I wrote a feature about back in our mid-October digital edition — that younger and older workers are much more closely aligned in temperament, taste and priorities than either demographic group is with Gen Xers.
Mind you, the studies are considering two different groups of older workers, baby boomers and mature workers, but the general finding seems to be that millennials’ goals and needs at work mirror those of their parents’ generation (and even the next one back) more than they do the goals and needs of those who came just before them.
In Randstad’s “Engagement Study,” it finds employees in two demographically opposed age brackets (millennials, born 1979 to 1994, and mature workers, born before 1946) share a common vocational verdict: They both expressed a more positive outlook on their careers than other demographics surveyed.
In fact, 89 percent of mature workers and 75 percent of millennials say they enjoy going to work every day, and a majority of both groups feel inspired to do their best at work (95 percent of mature respondents and 80 percent of millennials). These workers also perceive a higher morale in the workplace than other age groups, with 69 percent of millennials and 64 percent of mature workers finding a positive energy at work, compared to just a 53-percent average among other groups, including Gen X.
Similarly, in my October Q&A with talent-management and demographic expert Sylvia Ann Hewlett titled “Rethinking Demographics,” she presents her case for millennials and baby boomers (born 1946 through 1964) being cut from the same cloth when it comes to their interests in flexible schedules and social connections, their commitments to bettering the planet and finding meaning in their work, and even the fact that they both value loyalty to their employers.
On the contrary, says Hewlett — whose research into this was published in a Harvard Business Review article, “How Gen Y & Boomers Will Reshape Your Agenda” — Gen Xers (born 1965 through 1978) are the lone group among the three. She calls them “the generation of hard knocks … hit hardest by two or three major recessions [and] burned in underwater mortgages with young children.”
Both Hewlett and Jim Link, managing director for Randstad US, say companies need to do a much better job incorporating these similarities and differences into engagement and talent-management strategies. Link says it’s “critical for companies [to] dive into what engagement and retention drivers are aligned and not aligned [in order to] identify and prioritize the larget opportunities to improve employee engagement … .”
Such as, you might ask? For one, Hewlett suggests partnering young and old in a kind of training-up-and-training-down program. Another might involve sending boomers and millennials out together on volunteer projects.
Both say initiating programs with demographic alignment in mind will reap rewards you can’t even imagine till you try.