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Myths & Truths about Multigenerational Workforce


Multigenerational workforce is a workforce made up of employees from different generations - from traditionalists who value authority and top-down approach to Generation Z with their digital nativeness and fast decision-making process. A Korn Ferry survey suggested that there are approximately five generations working side-by-side today, namely traditionalists, baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z. 

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Besides the diversity of thoughts and skills brought by a multigenerational workforce, the survey found that a lot has been written about intergenerational conflict brewing in workplaces, where Millennials are commonly labelled as lazy, selfish, and shallow while older generations are known for its strict rules and inability to learn technology fast. But are those stereotypes true? HR professional Tania Lennon debunked the three myths and revealed the truths in a multigenerational workforce.

Myth #1 - Engaging people within an organisation only emerges as being strongly valued in leaders by people over the age of 55. Generation Y (compared to all other generations) are least impressed by leaders’ efforts to connect people with projects that are personally meaningful to them.

The Truth: Younger generations look to their leaders to provide meaning and purpose to their work. They look for a ‘sense of fulfilment’

Myth #2 - All generations mention exciting and challenging work as the primary reason for staying at their company. The second and third most important features that keep people in an organization are ‘opportunities to advance’ and ‘autonomy/freedom’. At 55+, ‘meaningful work’ replaces advancement opportunities. But autonomy and freedom remain important, regardless of age.

The Truth: Organisations need to use different approaches to retain younger generations. Some research suggests younger generations are less loyal and more willing to change, Lennon found, and that a work-life balance is more important than career progression.

Myth #3 - We have seen a distinct pattern emerge when looking at the experiences and expectations of different generations in the workplace. However, when it comes to what people are looking for from their actual leaders, there are very few differences. 

The Truth: Each generation needs to be managed differently in order to keep them engaged and motivated. Because of the diverse needs of each generation, leaders should adopt different leadership skills for different generations.

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