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    September 19, 2022

    The Intergenerational Workforce - Not a 'One Size Fits All' approach

    For the first time in a century, we have up to five generations working together. That means Baby Boomers are working alongside Gen Zers and everyone in between. This presents challenges when working towards a work culture that attracts and retains talent from all backgrounds and all ages. It would be nice if there was a magic wand to create something “one size fits all.” The reality is, someone at the beginning of their career, someone 20 or 25, is probably wanting something different than someone who is 40. That 40-year-old has a different view of what they need versus an employee who is 60 or even 70. As an employer, you need them all to be engaged and able to contribute. It sounds complicated, however, with some strategy and the willingness to pilot and get feedback, any company can find ways to meet employees' needs and make them more engaged, whether they're 18 or 68.


    What You Can Do

    As with any initiative, you need data. How many people do you have in different age categories? How do you want to define these age groups? Are there concentrations of different age groups in different departments and/or locations?

    Next, consider the cost of losing a key employee. This could be an executive, but could also be the trusted manager in the warehouse that’s been with you for more than 25 years. SHRM, The Society for Human Resource Management, estimates that losing any employee will cost you from 50% to 75% of their annual salary. The cost to the team picking up the extra work, recruiting, and training costs quickly add up. So, every $60K/year employee that leaves will cost your company $30K to $45K. Looking back at turnover data and salaries, you can calculate exactly what it costs your company when an employee leaves. Look at this cost in conjunction with the average retention rate for an employee. If a lot of your people are turning over every two to three years, that is a huge cost compared to companies that retain employees for 10 years, even with salary increases included.

    At this point, you should know two things: The different age categories in your company and the estimated cost of losing key employees. You have the business case and you also understand more about the different generations in your workforce. You are armed with the data you need.


    Give Them What They Want

     OK, maybe not everything. However, the best way to get traction for any initiative is to ask employees what they need and want to feel better and be more engaged. Make it an open-ended question. Some answers will not surprise you, but here are a few that have come out of this exercise at other companies:

    "I don’t know how to manage my personal debt, but I’m embarrassed to ask for help. Is there a resource for me that is confidential? I’m really stressed about it. It’s keeping me up at night. I feel really unfocused and think about it even on the job."

    "I’m in my 30s. My mom had me later in life. She now has early-stage Alzheimer’s. I feel like no one here my age would understand what I’m going through. I’m really anxious and feel isolated. It’s my mom. I want to do what’s best for her. I feel like this is impacting how I show up at work."

    "I love working here, but at this stage in my career, I don’t really need or want to 'move up the ladder.' I feel like I’m being judged as not ambitious, or 'less than' just because I love what I do now. Is anyone in the C-Suite focused on those us of that want to work, be a part of the company, but have a different career path than some of my younger colleagues?"

    These are just a few examples of real-life responses. Your employees may share very different concerns and needs. Getting this kind of feedback means you can start to prioritize employee offerings that take away the pain points for your employees, no matter their age. Is it a ping pong table? Probably not. A resource or benefit that truly meets your employee’s needs and makes it clear the company is thinking about them and wants them to be engaged can mean real cost savings for the company.

    Remember– the retirement age of 65 was established when people had shorter lifespans. Employees in their 60s have been using technology for most of their working careers. Younger workers want the opportunity to be able to learn and move up in the company. Every employee, to be productive, needs to know how to protect their health, wellbeing and their ability to be engaged with the company and their team members. Some things are true at any age. With the right strategy, you can have an engaged workforce, no matter their age.

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