In literature, we can find definitions of 5 different generations, determined by age group; veterans, the “baby boom” generation, generation X, generation Y (millennials) and generation Z. Each generation is assumed to possess certain values, work ethics and morals. All generations defined so far have one thing in common - they are separated according to their age group, which is by default being attributed defining characteristics that are also taken into account by employers when hiring.
When hiring and preparing management strategies, companies often focus on these characteristics, attributed to certain generations. More than half (52%) of the respondents in the survey conducted by Deloitte claim that they still take into account generational differences in the implementation of employment and management strategies. However, only 6% of respondents believe that their leaders are able to effectively lead a multigenerational workforce. This raises the question of whether a segmentation-based recruitment and management strategy are effective or not.
Today’s workforce is more complex than ever. Some companies use technologies to prepare analyses in order to better understand the attitudes and values of the workforce. Those create new and more relevant insights into the needs and expectations of employees. Based on the analyses, companies have the opportunity to design and implement strategies more focused on their employees’ individual characteristics. However, who are the Perennials?
Perennials are different from all generations defined so far
The concept of Perennials, as defined by Gina Pell in 2016, encompasses a much broader view of individuals than categorization based on demographic data. As Pell defines, the Perennials are: “always thriving individuals of all ages living in the present, who know what’s going on in the world, stay up to date with technology, and have friends of all ages«.
The Perennials are therefore not defined according to age or specific interests. By nature, they are curious and innovative, which is why they rarely shape their lives based on trends. They are surrounded by people of different ages and different walks of life. The year they were born does not limit who they are. The technology they did or did not grow up with does not determine how they communicate with the world around them. They are ambitious, open-minded and do not care that they are too old or too young for the things that make them happy.
Why is generational separation becoming less and less important in understanding the workforce?
Rapid technological change is making us increasingly more flexible. However, changes in the mindset suggest that it is acceptable and sometimes even desirable for younger individuals to advance to leadership positions. Many of the preferences that were once associated primarily with the millennials apply today to different generations. Representatives of all age groups thus want employment with an employer that reflects their values and offers a customized work schedule.
Lindsey Pollak, author of "The Remix - How to Lead and Succeed in an Intergenerational Workplace", which examines multigenerational jobs, states: “The longer I study generations in the workplace, the more similarities I find in what people want from work. Basic ones such as meaning, purpose, leadership skills, professional and personal growth do not change. Only the way of expressing these needs and expectations towards employers has changed.”
How to attract perennials as an employer and what do you want in the workplace?
As Pollak states, the best option is to focus on training and development approaches that suit different generations. Talk to your employees, listen to their suggestions and in this way determine the leadership style that suits the most people. Offer mentoring in a variety of combinations, such as manager to employee or employee to employee. PayScale’s research has shown that learning and development opportunities have a major impact on reducing employee turnover.
For more effective intergenerational collaboration, encourage the exchange of skills between employees from different generations. Create a two-way communication that will benefit both younger and older employees. Offer a flexible work schedule and the opportunity for professional and personal growth. Furthermore, increase the appearance of your business on various social media and recruitment sites.
Pollak further lists WAYS TO MANAGE WORKFORCE IN AN INTERGENERATIONAL ENVIRONMENT EFFECTIVELY;
- Do not assume that one strategy will be effective for all employees.
- Share inside information regularly.
- Enable teamwork with members of different age groups.
- Take time for your employees and listen to them.
- Provide flexibility where possible.
- Share successes with team members and thank the individuals who contributed.
- Encourage intergenerational communication in different communication styles.
Do you want to ensure effective intergenerational cooperation in your company?
Get a quantifly analysis to help you design strategies that are tailored to the needs of your employees.
Volini, E., Schwartz, J. and Mallon, D. (15.5.2020). The postgenerational workforce - from millennials to perennials. Deloitte. Retrieved from: https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/human-capital-trends/2020/leading-a-multi-generational-workforce.html
Pollak, L. (2019). The Remix - How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace. HarperCollins.