Generational differences are once again becoming the talk of the town. With the rise of a new generation ready to take up the helm of leadership, people have been wondering about what the future holds for us now. The usual baby boomer and Gen X-dominated industries are being rocked to its core with this new generation entering the workforce.
After all, this is the first time in corporate history where up to five generations are in the workplace together. These generations are: the Traditionalists (born before 1946), Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1964-1980), Millennials (born 1981-1995), and Generation Z (born 1996-2010).
Why is the talk of generations so important to management? Generational perspective has been a vital tool in managing multi-generational workplaces and devising and implementing employee engagement strategies – it’s essential to understanding groups of people in the workplace, and engaging them according to their values and experiences. Generational perspective also helps organizations encourage collaboration within the workplace.
When people don’t feel that they are valued within the organization, their loyalty wanes and their engagement suffers. Managers tailor-fit organizational engagement strategies and recruitment strategies that respond to the needs and wants of different generations through the help of generational profiles.
Part of devising these strategies are designing attractive employment benefits. In the 2015 survey by Jobstreet PH, they presented the top 5 most important factors for job satisfaction according to over 7,500 Filipino employees:
- Salaries, company benefits, and incentives (64%)
- Job role (62%)
- Learning and development programs leading to career growth (60%)`
- Working environment, culture and reputation (59%)
- Relationships with colleagues and boss (56%)
If you still doubt as to what extent Filipino employees value employment benefits, then here’s the top 5 factors for why Filipino employees leave their jobs:
- Not satisfied with salary (42%)
- Not satisfied with career growth (31%)
- Culture, working environment, work life balance (23%)
- I wasn’t satisfied with company’s processes and systems (17%)
- Job role (16%)
Employment benefits like salary still takes up the topmost consideration for why Filipino employees take jobs and keep or leave them. Even though the data above is still quite incomplete in the generational profiling front, this article will discuss how the concept of the right employment benefits differ from each generation to the other, and how you can you hit your multigenerational employees’ right spots as a manager.
Let’s get into discussing what are the characteristics and values of each generation, and how to deliver employee benefits that they’ll go crazy for.
Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)
Baby boomers are those who were born during the population boom after World War II, roughly between early- to mid-1940s, and 1960 to 1964. Birthed and raised by the meek and compliant Traditionalists (also known as the Silent Generation), they grew up self-reliant, confident, and competitive.
In her series of TED talks, Dr. Mary Donohue (founder and CEO of Donohue Learning) described baby boomers as “builders” who “built the corporations, the bureaucracies, and the volunteer structures” that we have today. They are the generation that strived to create their legacies and worked to rebuild a new world post-war.
Today they are the leaders of their organizations, widely respected and highly esteemed for their long and extensive experience. They measure their accomplishments according to how much they’ve done in the office; baby boomers value loyalty, resourcefulness, and work ethics.
They are also described as workaholics – never staying put and always working on something to the point that they do not see themselves going out of the proverbial door anytime soon.
However, that doesn’t mean that they’re taking off retirement completely off the table. In fact, baby boomers nowadays are preparing for life in retirement.
When it comes to employment benefits, they are looking for good salary levels that could help sustain them in retirement life. Aside from salary, they appreciate it when organizations offer health insurance and retirement plans. They are extremely self-reliant and would prefer not to be dependent on their children’s incomes, which is why working for a sustainable retirement life is their top priority these days.
Lastly, offering great retirement plans and health insurance to your baby boomer team members show how much you appreciate all of the work they’ve done for the company. After all, baby boomers deserve a great send-off for the legacies they’ve created.
Generation X (born 1964-1980)
Born to workaholic baby boomer parents, people from the Generation X are independent to the point of being individualistic. As children, they were left to do things on their own while their parents worked. At an early age, they learned self-reliance that unfortunately came with cynicism and skepticism. Most, if not all, of the Generation X share a common distrust against authority.
But this self-reliance comes with cynicism and skepticism. Because they saw their parents spend more time building their careers than caring for them, the Generation X shares a common distrust against authority.
This is well-contextualized in the Philippines. Filipinos born in this generation were alive during the Marcos dictatorship, and at the height of the regime’s abuses they were very active in the resistance movement – they are the generation that saw dictatorships fall in their country and in other parts of the world as well.
In the workplace, the Generation X prefer to work alone, prioritize their work-life balance, and dislike being micromanaged. Even though they share a very small part of the workforce, they are entrepreneurial, results-oriented, and innovative as well as techno-savvy compared to their baby boomer superiors.
Generation X straddle the fine line between the digital native millennials and indifferent baby boomers when it comes to technology. Generation X was born before the digital age, and were old enough to live through it. They remember a time before emails, smartphones, and laptops were all the rage. But this doesn’t stop them from being as techno-savvy as the younger generations. However, they can temper their obsession over technology.
They are also extremely family-oriented, placing their children’s welfare first before themselves, and strive to treat them better than their parents had. Job security and advancement in the company are highly valued by this generation since they want to provide more for their families.
On the other hand, they also value job security and career advancement because of Generation X’s innate desire to finally spread their wings and take over baby boomers’ leadership. Now in their 40s or 50s, Generation X today can now be found in executive and managerial positions. But because baby boomers are slower to get out of the door, that means Generation X are not getting promoted as soon as they wanted.
While this is the least engaged generation in the workplace, it doesn’t mean that less effort should be exerted to pull them to the surface. They only like to keep their head down and let their work speak for themselves.
How can you pique the interest of the least engaged generation for them to become more involved with the organization? Increase retention among the Generation X by conducting mentoring sessions and career advancement seminars – offer flexible schedules and options to telecommute. They are most motivated when their jobs allow them to have work/life balance. Even though they are the least known generation in the workplace, sometimes even tagged as “the middle child”, highly-motivated people from this generation provide tremendous value to the organizations that they are in. It wouldn’t do well to just let them fade into the background.
Millennials (born 1981-1995)
Also known as Generation Y, millennials are the newest addition to the workforce and the most misunderstood generation. Tagged as arrogant, entitled, carefree, and laidback, millennials have been receiving a lot of flak lately especially from their older superiors. On the other hand, they are being praised for their entrepreneurial spirit, adaptability to technology, and empowerment.
Born during a time of rapid technological innovations, this generation has been greatly shaped by technology. In fact, social media influences them more than their parents or mentors do. The level of connectivity that millennials enjoy through the widespread use of internet has created a higher sense of global civic identity among them.
Millennials are very self-assured and most feel that they are empowered. They are distrustful of traditional structures and care deeply about having work-life balance. This would even reach to a point where they would refuse good pay if the job isn’t good for their work-life balance.
Moreover, millennials think that the organizations they work for are extensions of themselves, which makes them more likely to work in companies that they feel represent their values well.
On the other hand, it seems being tagged as “entitled” or “lazy” is the least of millennials’ problems. While they are predicted to be more than 40% of the workforce by 2020, it seems they wouldn’t be holding the reins anytime soon as two generations older than them are still active in the workforce. Added by the fact that they entered the workforce amidst widespread economic crises, millennials struggle at earning financial independence and gaining career advancement.
While Generation Y is the most educated generation in history as of now, they are also the most unemployed and underemployed. In 2016, 50% of the unemployed Filipinos are 15 to 24 years old while 28% are 23-34 years old.
Understandably, frustration has become the ethos of the millennial generation. How can organizations deal with such a misunderstood yet troubled generation?
Surprisingly, despite the difficulties they face in adult life, millennials value training and development more than cash bonuses or higher wages. They are also highly attracted to companies that offer flexible working hours, student loan repayment assistance, and longer holiday time-offs.
These facts show a lot about how millennials value freedom and control over their lives and how they actively search for purpose and self-improvement. You can tap into these desires by offering mentoring programs, career advancement seminars, and on-the-job trainings for your millennial employees. Offer flexible working hours with option to telecommute. This way you empower your young millennial employees who are just about to embark on a journey to self-actualization.
The Next Best Solution: Flexible Benefits
Most companies are tempted to offer standard benefits for all of their employees. Meaning, they don’t offer benefits to Juan that they don’t offer to Jane as well. However, being flexible with the benefits you offer pays off more than just making a standardized benefits plan.
How so? Glassdoor says, “Attracting top talent takes an ongoing strategy of both branding your company as a great place to work and offering enticing benefits. A flexible benefits package may be the tipping point for a talented individual deciding between two job opportunities. It can provide your firm with a competitive advantage, one that brings highly talented people to your doorstep and retains them longer.”
All in all, when it comes to designing benefits plans, you should aim to play the long game, and that is to attract and also retain top talent. Customize your benefits plan according to what your top talent values and you’ll find that it will make them more agreeable and more motivated to work with you.
But don’t forget, only offer benefits you can actually afford to deliver and will pay off more than it costs you. Time and research is vital for arriving at an attractive benefits plan, so it’s also important to take your time and don’t take the deep plunge almost too quickly.
Effective generational profiling and well-thought out benefit plans can immensely help your organization in targeting, attracting, and retaining top talents. Finally, being flexible with your benefit plans might sound controversial at first or even desperate, but will prove to be more effective in achieving your recruitment and employee engagement goals.
After all, great organizations are made of great people, and people stay motivated when they are happy.
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