There is a lot of advice out there today about how to improve hiring decisions, but not as much discussion about how to evolve hiring to build and foster successful cross-generational team building. Your talent pool is likely filled with high potential employees from every generation, and successful companies do whatever they can to capitalize on the cross-generational differences in their workforce.
How can you actually create a well-oiled cross-generational team, and then motivate it to work at its best? The truth is that building, managing, and successfully motivating a cross-generational workforce starts early – at the hiring stage and with pre-hire assessment tools. But, as you’ll see, there are also things you can do throughout the employee life cycle.
Talkin’ About Our Generations
Before we go into how to build and motivate cross-generational teams, it’s in your interest to review the most prominent generations in your workforce and understand what drives them.
Most of the American workforce (approximately 93%) is made up of people from the Baby Boomer generation, Generation X, and Millennials. Let’s take a look at what makes them tick.
Baby Boomers, born in the wake of the Second World War, grew up influenced by parents committed to traditional values. Making up 25% of the US workforce, Boomers tend to prize teamwork, “elbow grease”, and finishing what you start. They are often skeptical of new technology, questioning whether it really makes everything better and worrying about its effects on society.
Boomers may feel younger generations are “softer” (a nicer way to say “weaker”) than they are.
Generation Xers grew up under the influence (and often, the parentage) of Boomers. Workers from Generation X (comprising 33% of the American workers) are more independent and fun-loving than Baby Boomers, attaching greater importance to a work-life balance.
Still, Generation Xers often stick with one company for decades, counting on the benefits they can collect when it’s time to retire. This makes them generally reliable workers. Notably, Generation Xers are largely responsible for many of the technological innovations Millennials take for granted today.
Millennials make up 35% of the US workforce today, and have more options to create a work life balance than Generation Xers. Millennials quickly embrace emerging technologies, and could push you to adopt contactless payment systems or accept cryptocurrency.
Then again, Millennials’ commitment to work-life balance could suddenly inspire them to leave your company for greener pastures (e.g., a company with mental healthcare benefits and/or unlimited PTO)!
With that in mind, it isn’t the least bit surprising that Millennials have been a driving force behind the “Great Resignation. If you want to improve your retention rates, you have to figure out how to keep Millennials happy!
Note: A much smaller percentage (5%) of American workers come from Generation Z. As other generations age and move out of the workforce, though, Gen Z workers will make up an increasing share of the US workforce; they have much in common with Millennials.
How to Motivate the Cross-Generational Team You Have
There is much you can do with the talent you already have on hand to help them work together and overcome cross-generational differences.
Have older, more experienced employees mentor and train your younger hires, emphasizing the importance of two-way communication and feedback.
Play to Generational Strengths
Play to different generations’ strengths. Put Boomers in charge of setting goals, let your Millennials figure out how to reach them, and then assign Generation Xers to evaluate the results.
At the same time, don’t rigidly hold to that structure; if a Boomer has trouble determining goals, let Gen Xers and Millennials provide a different perspective.
Do whatever you can to get employees from different generations to understand each other. Incorporate brainstorming, feedback, evaluation, and conflict-resolution mechanisms that utilize every method from one-on-one in-person AND Zoom meetings to social media and chat app channels. Move this to the last paragraph under this heading.
Build a Great Cross Generational Team from the Start
You have to really start at the employee recruiting stage, and look for commonalities between candidates, and between candidates and current employees.
This is a whole lot easier thanks to pre-hire assessment tools. Through pre-employment testing, you could discover Millennial candidates with an affinity for analogue technologies and an openness to old-school solutions. Or, you can meet Baby Boomers with cryptocurrency portfolios and Generation Xers who’ve taught themselves to be expert coders.
You can’t always count on such outliers, though, so the likelihood is you’ll have to embrace rather than avoid cross-generational differences in your new hires.
When you effectively fuse the experiences, values, and perspectives of employees from different generations, you can create cohesive, cooperative units capable of handling practically any challenge together. In the end, their success will help create a self-sustaining source of motivation for cross-generational teams, taking a lot of the work out of your hands.
So, there’s no time to waste. You can set the stage now for a harmonious cross-generational work environment with the help of the best pre-employment testing software, like that from Reveal. The information you can glean from Reveal’s pre-hire assessment tools can tell you what motivates candidates, and whether they are compatible with your company culture – and their fellow employees.
To see how you can get the right people in the right seats, regardless of generation, and keep that cross-generational team motivated, get in touch with Reveal today.