Generations at Workplace: what every employer should know when recruiting

UntitledToday’s employers are in a unique situation: there are five different generations working under one roof. We can find traditionalists, who are already officially retired, but still active employees working together with Gen Z, representatives from our youngest generation, who has just entered (or about to do that) to the labor market.

We have seen an increase in articles focusing on younger generations (Millennials, Gen Y, and Gen Z). But to be honest not many organizations can afford to put all eggs into one basket, i.e. to hire and work with people from one specific generation (for instance only Millennials).

Companies who are willing to hire and work with people from different generations have different advantages. Firstly, they will get a wider range and more candidates from whom to choose the best and most suitable employee. Secondly, diverse teams (which includes also people from different generations) generate better results than non-diverse teams. Hence, in case you want to hire the best and be successful you need to have employees from different generations in your organization.

Each generation has their own characteristics: they have been raised in different eras, in different environments, using different technology – which means that their work habits, as well as channels that they trust and use when applying to the job,  are different.

Knowing each generations characteristics and traditions helps in attracting, engaging, retaining, and developing its members. So what is this that every organization should know when targeting potential candidates from different generations?*

Traditionalists, those born before 1945 (now in age 70+)

Traditionalists are the oldest generation in the workplace, although most of them are now retired. They are characterized as loyal workers, highly dedicated, averse to risk and strongly committed toward teamwork and collaboration. They value security, comfort, and familiar, known activities and environments.

How to attract traditionalists? It wouldn’t make sense to create web campaigns to this target group unless the campaign had a title “Bring your grandmother to work”. My experience shows that best way to attract them is by word of mouth; which means that your employee referral program is just the right channel to reach them. But I would also recommend using traditional recruitment channels (such as newspapers) when attracting traditionalists.

Baby Boomers, those born 1946-64 (now about 50-70 years old)

Boomers’ ability to adapt to change of all kinds has been honed by years of dealing with change firsthand. Having to adapt to new technologies has been a necessity and in some cases a challenge, not just the use of these technologies but the impact that they have had on the protocols of acceptable office behavior. Boomers believe they can do anything they set their sights on, and they’re used to working hard and long hours to accomplish it.

How to attract Boomers? Although you can find representatives of this generation in Social Media, then probably it is not reasonable to build your entire recruitment campaign on that platform when trying to target Boomers. They are using several channels when looking for a job: starting with job boards, newspaper adverts and finishing with recommendations from friends/acquaintances’. Which means that Employee Referral program is also something that could be invested in when targeting Boomers. One thing that distinguishes them from traditionalists is this that they are more active when it comes to job search: they use several different channels when looking for a job.

Generation X, those born 1965-76 (now about 40-50 years old)

Gen X is more independent, autonomous and self-reliant than previous generations. They are often characterized by high levels of skepticism, “what’s in it for me” attitudes. Gen Xers are arguably the best-educated generation with 29% obtaining a bachelor’s degree or higher (6% higher than the previous cohort). They are entrepreneurial, pragmatic and creative; they have strong technical skills, they are results focused, and are “ruled by a sense of accomplishment and not the clock”.

How to attract Gen X? They, too, use Job Boards, friend recommendations, but also Social Media (primarily LinkedIn) when are on the job hunt.

Millennials, those born 1977-97 (now about 20-40 years old)

Millennials are known as incredibly sophisticated and technology wise. Their ease with technology allows them to move fast and efficiently, whether they’re searching the Internet, taking photos, sending text messages, watching YouTube – all on their cell phones.

How to attract Millennials?  Though they do not have favorite channels when looking for a job, they do use job boards and friend recommendations, as did Gen X. As they are eager users of Social Media (age 25 to 34 is the most common age demographic of Facebook users) then it would be wise to build your next recruitment campaign to that platform.

Generation Z those born 1997 and later (in the age 20 and younger)

While we don’t know much about Gen Z yet, we know a lot about the environment they are growing up in. This highly diverse environment will make the grade schools of the next generation the most diverse ever. Gen Z kids will grow up with a highly sophisticated media and computer environment and will be more Internet savvy and expert than their forerunners. They are completely digitally native in the sense of being quite helpless in a non-digital world. According to studies, Gen Z is the most socially responsible generation.

How to attract Z-generation? Even though you might befall them in Social Media and Job Boards, there is actually a much higher chance to find them and attract on YouTube and thru Mobile Recruitment. Since this is the generation that has grown up as followers of YouTubers then YouTube is possibly the Channel when trying to recruit Gen Z. So upload your next Recruitment Movie to YouTube and/or hire a well-known YouTuber who could promote both you as an employer as well as the job to what you are hiring at.

*Recommendations on how to attract different generations are based on a Survey that was conducted at the beginning of 2016 by recruitment blog “Make your job advertisement attractive”. The survey was carried out among 300 Facebook users and studied their recruitment preferences.

Descriptions of different generations are prepared based on the following articles:


This post was originally published at LinkedIn

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