Last week we released part one of our three-part series highlighting one of the most significant challenges we’re seeing in the workplace and how leaders need to rethink multigenerational differences to design a modern work experience and attract/retain the best talent.
It sparked some controversy and commentary—especially from Gen X leadership who are struggling to deliver to the board, shareholders, employees, and themselves. Some agreed with the challenges presented while others feel like they’re in a position of strength. Don’t just take my word for it, for a deeper dive into generational perceptions and differences, take a look at what Pamela Paul wrote in the New York Times this past summer.
For part two, we are diving into four of the biggest areas impacted by generational differences at work and next week, we will bring forward actionable solutions for each. We also want to hear from you on how this is impacting your workplace so drop us a note if you have thoughts or weigh in on our LinkedIn poll.
- Finding Purpose through Work: While there’s plenty of data to show that finding purpose through work is an important aspect of living a happy life, the value put on finding purpose through work differs greatly from generation to generation. For instance, Gen Z tends to seek purpose outside of the workplace but is still heavily committed to working for mission-driven companies. Meanwhile, Gen X has spent over twenty years building their careers and many are now questioning what they gave up in the process. As middle age hits for this generation, many are trying to discover what purpose really means to them and are seeking new work experiences that can fulfill them. Each generation is approaching the idea of work and purpose differently based on their upbringing, time in career, geography, the economy, and more, and it is impacting the way they show up and deliver at work.
- Company Culture Norms: How, where and when we can work has become equally as important as the work itself. As I mentioned in part one, Gen X makes up the majority of today’s executive suite and right now, the future of work is at a bit of an inflection point. Leaders from major corporations (Disney and Starbucks to name a few) are putting a stake in the ground on return to office for corporate employees, while others are comfortable with hybrid or even full remote. And as if the WFH/WFO debate wasn’t hot enough, discussions about the 4-day work week and doing away with the 9-to-5 are trending all over LinkedIn. As these conversations continue to evolve, so must company policies in order to retain and recruit top talent at all levels.
- Company Benefits and Perks: There was a time when a health insurance plan and a 401k would cut it but now, younger generations are placing more emphasis on things like mental health, maternity and paternity leave, alternative medicine and overall well-being. I recently worked with a company to bring a top business development leader who was not comfortable with the maternity leave policy. They risked losing their number one candidate but as a larger corporation, you can’t simply change policy for one employee or candidate. The company was nimble enough to get HR and the corporate decision-makers engaged quickly and we were able to work through an offer that aligned with company policy and deliver for the candidate’s personal needs and family planning. Most large companies are not able to be this nimble and without flexible benefits, companies are at risk of losing top talent.
- Career Pathing: Each generation has different views on what it takes to climb the ladder and how much they even want to climb it. Gen Xers have earned their spots in the C-suite by putting in the time and work but many have sacrificed quite a bit along the way. On the other hand, younger Millennials and Gen Zers more often see the value they bring to a company in their skills and the job they are performing today and have expectations of moving more quickly into new roles. Experience used to trump all (the more you have, the easier the climb) but now, skills that mainly Gen Z and Gen Y have mastered (i.e. social, tech, web3) are highly sought after and years of experience are starting to matter less to hiring managers. The challenge, of course, is the lack of leadership training and coaching these young executives receive as they move so quickly through the ranks. Companies are caught in a tough spot working to retain top talent while working to deliver training and leadership development for these rising stars.
All of these areas are very tough to navigate and corporations, both large and small, are struggling to navigate them. Next week we will put forward several smart solutions that we’re seeing the most progressive companies embrace in the hopes that you can use within your own organization.