How to Manage a Multi-Generational Workforce

In the past, we’ve discussed the different outlooks of each generation; how they like to give, their values, their buying habits. But, what happens when you put them all in one place? How do you manage an office where you have employees from Baby Boomers to Generation Z all working together? Each group has given criticism of the other over the years. How can you get them to work as a team and create a cohesive work environment in which Multi Generations in the Officeindividuals of all generations and outlooks have the chance to succeed? Let’s take a look at what makes each of these generational cohorts tick as well as how to manage and motivate these groups in the office.

First let’s breakdown the main characteristics, values, and attributes of each cohort. Keep in mind these are generalizations of each group and can vary from person to person.

Baby Boomers

  • Born between the years of 1946 and 1964.
  • In 2015, Baby Boomers numbered around 74.9 million in the U.S. and at that time made up 33% of the workforce.
  • They are work-centric, competitive, and goal-oriented in the workplace; and are motivated by positions and prestige. Many are in supervisory roles.

Generation X

  • Born between the years of 1961-1981.
  • This cohort has a population of about 46 million in the U.S. Because of their relatively small size compared to that of the Baby Boomers and Millennials they often get ignored by marketers.
  • In the workplace they are looking for a work-life balance, are tech-savvy, and independent in their work.


  • Born between 1980-2000.
  • As of 2012, Millennials numbered around 80 million in the U.S. They now edge out Baby Boomers in size and are the largest generation in Western history as well as the most educated.
  • They are entrepreneurial in nature and value collaboration, diversity, and wellness in the workplace.

Generation Z

  • Born around 1995-2010.
  • Are around 74 million in number in the U.S. This number may continue to grow depending on immigration.
  • The oldest of this cohort are around 21 and just entering the workforce. They are entrepreneurial and practical.

Looking at these generational groups there are many different values and characteristics across them. Each has different aspects about work that drives them and what they value in a job. Managing a workforce which includes members of most if not all of these groups may seem impossible, but it is not. Here are several things to keep in mind when managing a diverse group:

Create a communication standard: Each generation has its own preference when it comes to communicating and these differing opinions can cause friction between the groups. For example, Baby Boomers are more formal in their communication, Millennials and Generation Z are fine with a text message. Setting a standard for how certain information should be communicated within the office can take personal and generational preference out of the equation and help avoid any confusion and tension.

Get them talking: Bring together a diverse group of individuals from each cohort; have them get to know each other and keep it casual. Let them talk about their differences, what they care about, and how they can better workplace relationships between the generations. In this group, you can create a new hybrid group, a “cocktail cohort” which can help foster understanding throughout the office.

Consider the individual: Though we are talking about characteristics of different age groups, this does not mean you should blindly assume that depending on which generation they fall in that they embody all or any of the attributes of said group (this Millennial hates that). Get to know your employees’ interests and be flexible and open; adjust management styles when needed. All employees want to feel they are needed and the work they do matters.

As the office demographic ebbs and flows with the retiring of Baby Boomers and additions from Generation Z, management styles will be in flux. It is important to also keep the outlook of your organization in mind when managing all employees. A multi-generational office should not be looked at negatively; use the diversity it allows to your advantage.

Generation Z: The Next Big Thing

When you hear the terms “Baby Boomer” or “Millennial” certain attributes come to mind. But, what about when you hear “Generation Z”? Most people would be looking at me like my dogs do when I ask them if they want a treat; head cocked to the side with a questioning expression. Generation Z, the iGeneration, or Homeland Generation as they are often referred to, are the next “up and coming” generation for employers, marketers, and retailers to be focusing on. As the generational cohort after the Millennials, this group is just starting to enter the workforce and flex their buying power. Let take a look at what makes the iGeneration tick.

Defining the Group

  • Follow Millennials in the generational time line born roughly around 1995-2010iGeneration
  • Ages range from  5 to 20 years old currently
  • Digital natives; can’t remember a time before the internet or social media
  • Too young to remember 9/11 or were not born yet
  • “Right now” culture
  • Practical

How are they Different from Millennials?

  • Prefer apps like Snapchat, Vine, and Whisper
  • Rarely use email for personal use
  • Virtual community just as important as their physical community
  • Have learned from Millennial’s social media mistakes

So how does this translate into the real world?

Let’s synthesize this information and paint a picture of how a stereotypical Generation Z’er acts. The iGeneration are the toddlers who knew how to work an iPhone better than their parents. Many are now getting ready to graduate high school or have just entered college or the workforce. The younger end of the spectrum is watching the “For Kids” sections on Netflix and have their own account log in. They live life on multiple screens and are experts at multitasking, surfing the net, texting, and watching YouTube at the same time. They watch a lot of shows but not on cable. They prefer streaming services. They post Snapchat videos that will “disappear” rather than tagging photos on Facebook for longer periods. Growing up in a post-9/11 culture and watching their parents work through the recession has given them a more practical view for their future plans. Many want to be an entrepreneur and make their hobby into a career. Though they are tech oriented they have very short attention spans. A marketer better be able to get the big pictures across in 5 seconds or less, otherwise this group has already moved on. They also rarely use email, and are probably part of the reason marketers have moved to texting deals to consumers rather than waste time on mass email blasts.

I see a lot of these qualities in my younger brother. The seven years between us put me in the Millennial group (I was born in 1989) and my brother is just on the cusp. Being born in 1996 is technically he is considered part of Generation Z. My brother has a Facebook but rarely uses it, instead he “Snaps” everything. Since I don’t have a Snapchat I just get screen shots of his antics texted to me. He is in his sophomore year in college. He was a toddler when 9/11 occurred and remembers little from that day (I can remember the exact outfit I was wearing), and both of our lives have been shaped by what happened that day. Currently my brother is pursuing a degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Management; working to make his “hobby” (though I’d call it more of a passion) of being a volunteer firefighter and EMT a career. 

Take Aways

  • New group just starting to influence the market with their buying power with more to join them in the coming years
  • Do not lump them in with Millennials
  • Get to the point and fast
  • Forget Facebook and email
  • Make practical appeals

Do you have any other thoughts about Generation Z? How are they different from your generation?

What Employees Want: Ways to Keep Your Workforce Engaged and Motivated


Adulting is hard…How many times has the alarm gone off, and all you wanted to do was roll over and go back to sleep? Pretty much every morning, right? Somehow though we all get up, get ready, and go to work. Besides the obvious; what is it that keeps us all heading in day in and day out? How can employers learn what employees want and how to keep their workforce happy and motivated, and not dreading the next wake up?

One of the major issues facing employers today is how to keep and retain their employees, as well as keeping them motivated and fulfilled. With millennials embarking on their career journey, and with many baby boomers delaying retirement, employers must find ways to entice a multi-generational workplace.

What Do Millennials Want?

Let’s first take a look at the newest members of the workforce; the millennials. As this group (myself included) spreads their wings in the workplace, it is common for them to hop from job to job post-grad. explains further:

“Research suggests that today’s college graduates will have a dozen or more jobs by the time they hit their 30s. In an uncertain job environment, it has become societally and culturally okay that they explore. The expectations have changed. Your 20s are used as the time where you actually figure out what you want to do, so the constant job hopping to explore multiple industries is expected.”

Their older, Gen.Y counterparts are out to change the world; but millennials have a different way of doing the changing. They want to feel like they are part of the big picture and are making a difference; if they don’t mesh with the big picture of their employer or feel things are stagnant, millennials will likely move on.

What Makes Baby Boomers Stay?

As millennials enter their careers, baby boomers are continuing at the helms of many businesses; and are extending their time in the work force before retirement. A recent study by AARP finds that 41% of baby boomers have no plans to leave their posts in the near future. There are two major factors that are keeping this group working; the economy and their health. Due to the recession and slow economic growth in the past few years, this generation is staying employed longer to make up for their losses. Though they may have lost in the stock market in the past, for the most part, this group is still healthy and still has much to contribute.

How Do You Make Them All Happy?

The quick and dirty answer is…you don’t. Each person, regardless of their education or generational background, has different needs and wants, and like how mom always says,“you can’t please ’em all.” But, there are several things an employer can do to help improve employee moral, drive, and retention rates.


Everyone likes to know that they are doing a good job. That pat on the back lets you know the the work you do is appreciated and can go a long way. For me, this is probably what motivates me most; I aim to please, and want to continue to impress. Letting employees know that they are valued can help increase motivation and decrease the desire to look elsewhere for validation and fulfillment; especially where millennials are concerned. Here are some ideas employers can use to recognize and encourage their workforce:

  • Tell Them! – Sometimes it’s as easy as that, a few words about the good work they did on a project or the passion they show for their work can do wonders.
  • Special TreatsHas an employee been working diligently to complete a big proposal? Recognize their diligence with a special treat like a gift card to their favorite lunch spot, or if your company can swing it, maybe tickets to a special event coming to town.
  • Additional ResponsibilitiesThis may sound counterintuitive, but if you recognize an employee has the skill and drive it takes to complete a certain task, give it to them. Trusting them to leave their “comfort zone,” take on a new challenge, and recognizing their ability to learn and advance can really motivate employees who express the want to grow.


Interesting Work

I’ve worked a lot of menial repetitive jobs in my day, (in my defense these were high school/college era jobs) and can tell you there is nothing that makes me dread working more, and want to look for an alternative to the monotony, than work that doesn’t interest me. Believe me I know that these “boring” jobs are necessary; but sometimes you need to break up these “uninteresting” tasks and do something more challenging or different. There are many ways to prevent boredom and burn out; here are a few suggestions:

  • Unrelated Work – Is your company big on giving back? Pull one of your employees and have them organize a company fundraiser. Give interested employees the ability to work on a project outside of their daily tasks. It will give them a break from the funk they may be in.
  • Outside Learning – Employees do have interests outside the work they do daily; try sponsoring an “activity night” and get your employees using their brain cells as they work on non-work related projects.

 Keep Them in the Loop

Millennials want to feel like they are part of the bigger picture. Baby boomers need to be reassured that they aren’t being pushed to the wayside as the younger crowd moves in. Keeping employees “in the know” and active in company culture can help avoid employees feeling alienated and detached. Involving employees in activities would be a good way to reinforce company culture and keep them in the loop; these ideas would be a great place to start:

  • Company Activities – Like suggested above, organize an activity in which all employees are invited to take part in; maybe a 5k run/walk. Or, again, if your company can accommodate it, plan an outing and get the team together outside of work.
  • Newsletter/blog – Keep employees updated with key happening in the company by creating an internal newsletter or blog; make it ever more inclusive by letting the employees submit their own content.