How do employers manage a multi-generation workforce?

With four generations of workers with different skills, perspectives and expectations, how can employers manage and engage them?
By: | March 17, 2020

We are witnessing a diverse and dynamic workforce today, with four generations of different skills, expectations and perspectives that employers have to manage and engage with.

On the one hand, millennials (1981-1996) and Gen Z (1997-2010) are bringing a whole new set of expectations to the workplace. And on the other hand, Gen X (1965-1980) and Baby Boomers (1946-1964) are retiring in large numbers.

Over the last few years, millennials have rapidly risen to the peak of their careers and occupying leadership positions in the workforce. Meanwhile, the Gen Zers are beginning to enter the workforce with a whole new mindset and purpose of work. The Gen Xers face the danger of being left behind in the digital age if they are unable to upskill themselves and stay relevant. And phasing out of the workforce are the baby boomers who are seeing out the final phase of their careers.

So how do employers manage and engage four generations with such diverse skills, perspectives and expectations? First, let’s dive deeper into each generation of workers to find out what their concerns and expectations are.

Gen Z

While employers have focused on their efforts and engagement on the millennial workforce, they must start gearing up for the next wave of employees – the Gen Zers. And if they think that the Gen Zers and millennials are the same breed, they might want to think again.

The State of Employee Engagement in 2020 study by EngageRocket found out that Gen Z employees are two to three times more likely to find their rewards/compensation at work to be unfairly distributed, compared to other generations. In fact, only 11% of those surveyed indicated that they strongly agree that they are fairly rewarded for their contributions to the organisation. Having said that, they are the most engaged out of the four generations. The study also found they will value having an employer which is able to provide mentorship and continuous learning. They also expect their company to be socially responsible with strong and shared values.


By 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce. And despite employers focusing on changing their strategies to adapt to the millennial workforce, more needs to be done to engage and recognize this generation of employees.

Only 16% of millennials strongly agree that they received recognition for their contribution to the organization while 19% strongly believe their work give them a sense of accomplishment. And only half of them are satisfied with the performance review at their organization.

Since reward and recognition are the main concerns of millennial employees, employers should look into cultivating a culture of recognising excellence and implementing a deliberate, well-constructed performance review program.

Gen X

The oldest members of Gen X are nearing the 60+ years milestone and are fast approaching the time of retirement while the younger ones are expected to develop their career for another 22 years or more. Companies that ignore this potential will lose out on a vital opportunity.

While there’s a need for upskilling, companies can find their biggest supporters in Gen Xers, with 71% of them believing in their organisations’ mission or purpose. Yet, only 14% of them strongly feel that they are fairly rewarded for their contribution to the organization and 11% agree that they have the freedom to express their views even though they might contradict the views of their superiors. Therefore, employers need to develop initiatives to encourage autonomy and by implement effective recognition strategies if they were to maximise the potential of their Gen X talent.

Baby Boomers

While many of them have already retired, those that are in the final stage of their careers can be valuable assets for companies through their experience and leadership skills. But they first need to know they are being valued and heard. Even though most of them (72%) still find meaning in their work, only 16% of baby boomers indicated they are strongly confident that they can initiate change when they perceive a smarter way of doing things while 18% strongly feel that their development is encouraged at work.

Therefore, enabling the requisite autonomy, combined with upskilling designed for the digital era, is essential to maintain their level of engagement and productivity.