Each generation and what they want in the workplace

Each generation and what they want in the workplace

Today's workforce is more diverse and inclusive than ever. With a higher retirement age than in years past, more organizations employ more people across multiple generations. But what does this mean for your recruitment efforts? Find out in this guide that explores each generation and what they want in the workplace.

What does each generation want in the workplace?

Even with the age differences between generations, many professionals from all age groups share similar values when it comes to their careers. Here's an overview of each generation and what they want in the workplace:


Traditionalists, or the Silent Generation, are those born between 1928 and 1945. This generation entered the workforce long before modern technology became prevalent. Traditionalists typically value loyalty and discipline when it comes to work, but few people from this generation are still active in the current workforce.

Baby boomers

Baby boomers make up the generation born between 1946 and 1964. Even though many people from this generation are retiring, those still active in the workforce often value flexibility, reduced schedules, and remote work options the most. They also appreciate mentoring and sharing their expertise and industry knowledge with younger professionals developing their careers. Health benefits and retirement compensation are also important to baby boomers.

Generation X

Gen X is the generation born between 1965 and 1980. They're most likely to prioritize health coverage, flexible work schedules, retirement benefits, and other perks that support a healthy work-life balance. Many Gen Xers are supporting older children and aging parents, so they often prioritize stability and evaluate benefits that give them greater flexibility and space to manage their workloads without work getting in the way of family time. Another interesting fact about Gen X is their preference for monetary rewards over recognition and gifts.


Millennials, or Gen Y, are those born between 1981 and 1996 and currently make up the largest portion of the U.S. workforce, with roughly 39% of professionals in this age group. This is the generation that saw the advancement of modern technology. Many are adept with tech, and they were the first generation to change the work-life paradigm by challenging the notion that more time in the office meant higher productivity.

Gen Y also challenged the corporate world's profit-first mentality and is the generation most likely to value remote and flexible work arrangements. They also believe that performance should be based on the quality of work and not just hours in the office, with meaningful work a top priority when seeking career opportunities.

Generation Z

Gen Z is the generation born between 1997 and 2012 and is the second generational group to shake things up in the modern workforce, building on many of the values Gen Y brought to the table. Gen Z places the most importance on meaningful work and a healthy work-life balance. Growth and advancement opportunities are also priorities for the youngest generation of workers.

Gen Z isn't afraid to follow their passions, as they're the generation that's most likely to take a lower-paying job if it means more purposeful and fulfilling work. Members of Gen Z are also idealists — that is, they're the generation that expresses the greatest desire to work toward making the world a better place. Much like their millennial peers, they're most likely to value work flexibility, quality over quantity, and development opportunities.

"Supporting a multi-generational workforce ensures longevity for employees and better productivity for companies, ultimately leading to higher-quality outputs and more revenue."

Benefits of a multi-generational workplace

A multi-generational workplace has many benefits, including a greater competitive advantage when hiring for open roles. Here are several more benefits of expanding your talent pool across different age groups: 

Accesses diverse skill sets

Supporting a multi-generational workplace ensures reliable access to top talent and diverse skills. Adjusting your recruiting efforts so your company is attracting talent across all generations gives you more opportunities to fill open positions, expand your talent pool, and leverage competitive advantage in the market. Even with many older employees considering retirement, there are still plenty more who desire part-time work, so maximizing a greater range of skills can mean accommodating workers who desire these qualities.

Promotes positive work culture

Cultivating a positive work culture goes beyond compensation and benefits. With multiple generations working under the same roof, you'll have a greater diversity of perspectives, experience, and skills. This leads to more opportunities for younger generations to learn from seasoned employees, promoting higher levels of creativity and innovation.

More room to build on unique ideas, learn from in-house expertise, and apply new skills are also keys to retaining top talent from younger age groups. A multi-generational workplace also provides greater freedom and support for employees to share ideas, apply new skills, and improve in weaker areas, further cultivating a positive work environment.

Boosts productivity and performance

Multiple generations collaborating allows for more opportunities to share experiences and skills that can help younger workers develop and grow. This helps enhance engagement, keeping employees motivated and fulfilled with their work. This can also have a direct impact on boosting performance and productivity because of shared interests and goals.

Supporting a multi-generational workplace

There's no denying the advantages of multiple generations working together. Take advantage of these benefits in your organization with some strategies to help you support your multi-generational workforce:

Integrate diversity and inclusion

There's more to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives than just planning. You have to take action. Work with your team to establish DEI policies that include plans to integrate more diverse age ranges during hiring. Set these policies in motion through employee training and development. Here are several more ways to integrate DEI so that your company's recruiting efforts include all age groups:

  • Initiate employee and management DEI training on topics such as generational communication, implicit bias, and cultural competency.
  • Seek input and feedback from management and staff through surveys and discussions.
  • Provide open access to resources, tools, and support for generational workers, including career coaching, company-provided education, and mentorship programs.

Eliminate ageism

Companies that take steps to avoid age bias during recruitment and hiring are more likely to reap the rewards of a diverse talent pool. By looking more closely at the experience, skills, and ethics candidates bring to the table, you're more likely to fill important roles and boost your organization's efficiency. The first place to start is the job description, which can greatly influence the way people perceive the role and whether they apply. Assess your current role descriptions and eliminate common terms, keywords, and phrases that relate to specific ages or personal characteristics.

Assess benefits

Reassess the benefits your company offers and what teams receive as part of their employment. With more professionals valuing health and well-being, work-life balance, and flexibility, it's imperative to ensure you're offering a well-rounded package that supports each staff member — no matter their age. Many organizations prioritize these benefits for their employees, so use this as a starting place when assessing your compensation plan:

  • Variable schedules, including flexible and unlimited time off and remote work.
  • Full health coverage, with medical, dental, vision, and parental leave among the most desired.
  • Separate sick leave, with extended medical leave being another top priority.
  • Wellness perks, including paid health and fitness allowances and health spending accounts.

Supporting a multi-generational workforce ensures longevity for employees and better productivity for companies, ultimately leading to higher-quality outputs and more revenue. With the advantages that come with a diverse workforce, it's no surprise that more organizations are reassessing their hiring efforts to adopt more diverse practices.

More on cultivating a diverse workforce:

Find out how you can boost your hiring efforts by recruiting and retaining untapped talent.

Adjusting your job posts to reach multiple generations? Here are some do's and don'ts for writing inclusive job descriptions.

Get tips to attract the next generation of workers with your recruitment efforts.

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