For decades, HR leaders have relied on a generational lens to assess talent and manage an engaged workforce. In fact, more than half (52%) of respondents in Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends Survey say they consider generational differences when designing and delivering workforce programs. However, their new research also reveals the current workforce is far more complex than previously believed, and this approach is dangerously outdated.
Talent simply doesn’t fit neatly into boxes defined by age parameters when considering attitudes and values. That’s why HR leaders are shifting their focus to understanding the “perennial” workforce.
Perennials are “a group of people of all ages, stripes, and types who go beyond stereotypes and make connections with each other and the world around them,” according to expert Gina Pell.
Deloitte’s recent findings confirm that what people want from their working life — purpose, good leaders, and professional growth — doesn’t differ much between generations. This means the focus of your HR team should be building a more purpose-driven culture to attract talent from all generations to work together seamlessly.
Breaking down generational bias and barriers is the way forward. Here are a few factors to take into consideration when building out your new multigenerational talent strategy:
How you assess and deliver purpose
Unlearning or undoing everything you thought you knew about attracting and retaining talent seems like an impossible undertaking. However, your internal HR data provides significant clues about how effective your current strategy is at providing for a multigenerational workforce.
The indicators of where your HR processes — including talent acquisition, assessment, and management — could stand to improve to meet the needs of a multigenerational workforce are in plain sight. You simply need to dig into your current engagement and performance metrics.
- How are employees across different generations reaching goals?
- Does the current technology assist or hinder them?
- Are they using the benefits offered by the company?
- Are they happy?
Interestingly, the majority (59%) of Deloitte’s survey respondents agreed with the general statement “generational differences were expanding.” However, as researchers dug deeper into the survey results, they found the opposite is true. Respondents, regardless of age, were more likely to agree on areas such as work-life flexibility and expectations of loyalty, job security, and advancement.
Uncovering these details is vital to determine where time and money is wasted on inefficient tools, unnecessary benefits, and ineffective training, engagement, and employee wellness strategies.
Keep in mind, the way you assess for alignment with company values and purpose — and rise to meet the needs of your workforce — could vary depending on the diversity and dynamics of your specific organization.
For example, besides generation, 53% of Deloitte’s respondents said they consider tenure and level in designing workforce strategies; 44% consider personal demographics such as gender, and 41% said they look at organizational demographics such as function and geography.
While some of these apparent differences could drive your purpose and deliverables or even how you cultivate your workplace culture, they are not necessarily hard determinatives of what motivates your workforce.
Who your brand speaks to
Doing a full-scale evaluation of your employer branding is crucial to understanding your reach across generations. It also allows you to pick up on inconsistencies between what you offer talent and what they think they will get out of your jobs. This reveals areas you can improve on your engagement, satisfaction, and retention in one fell swoop.
One of the biggest challenges to your employer branding strategy currently is the vast age span of the workforce compared to years ago. Because people are working longer past retirement age, there are currently five generations in the workforce.
Not only is the multigenerational workforce more dynamic in age, but the shape of the workplace also keeps shifting. Your employer branding now needs to highlight your remote culture and appeal to different generations with varying professional and personal goals. It’s exhausting but possible, and it’s essential to your workforce’s long-term growth and success.
The largest generation in the workforce right now is millennials. Unfortunately, the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey found 49% of millennials would quit their current jobs in the next two years if given the choice. Respondents cited reasons such as pay/financial rewards (43%), lack of opportunities to advance (35%), lack of learning and development opportunities (28%), not feeling appreciated (23%), work-life balance (22%), boredom (21%), and culture (15%).
Paying careful attention to whom your brand speaks is significant because you may be attracting talent you’re not prepared to keep on board in terms of values, community involvement, pay, benefits, or the mobility you offer.
The starting point and trajectory of careers and when people begin their families, among other priorities, are as vast as the diverse workforce you hope to attract. Your branding needs to accurately reflect how your company supports personal ambitions and balance for employees.
What your hiring process reveals
Creating a hiring process that aligns a perennial workforce with your company’s purpose and values means your hiring process needs an overhaul as well. This includes looking at your interview questions and evaluation criteria. And don’t forget about updating tools like video interview software, collaboration, and communication applications.
The skills and experiences you look for naturally need to meet your culture and workload requirements. However, it’s becoming increasingly important to weigh factors such as working and learning styles and personality when assessing top talent.
The Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Survey found that 42% of respondents believe work behaviors — whether a person is a maker, doer, or manager — will be the most important factors to consider when segmenting the workforce in three years. Furthermore, 41% of Deloitte’s respondents agree personality type or a person’s propensity to be an individual contributor or team player will be most important in coming years.
This shift toward understanding the individual rather than fitting candidates into generational molds is crucial. If you don’t effectively assess talent, you are back to square one.
Knowing what you want to project and provide in talent acquisition and management is one thing. Developing a system to consistently and fairly assess talent while breaking down multigenerational workforce stereotypes is how you see your team grow and work together seamlessly.