Posted by Tessa Wegert on January 27, 2016
Boomers, Generation X, Millennials: These three generations are remarkably different, yet in today’s labor market, they work side by side. Last year, workers aged 18-34 surpassed Gen X as the largest generation in the US workforce. At the same time, one third of the oldest Boomers—now in their late 60s—are still holding down jobs.
This means that there’s a huge age span in offices all across America. There might be forty years or more separating marketing professionals today, but they’re coming together to form multigenerational departments unlike any that have existed prior.
For businesses concerned with maintaining a harmonious work environment and promoting teamwork, the composition of the modern marketing department creates both challenges and opportunities. Let’s explore what workers from each generation bring to the conference room table, and determine how your business can leverage their strengths.
To Each His Own (Skill Set)
One of the biggest advantages of a multigenerational marketing team is the distinctive skills and attributes that each demographic has to offer.
Characteristics displayed by older generations often include dedication and diligence. This behavior is firmly entrenched and can serve companies well. Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) are achievers, good at “recognizing and cultivating potential in others.”
Another positive trait that businesses can expect to find in a multigenerational team is loyalty. Research has shown that nearly a quarter of Gen X workers (born roughly 1965 to 1981) have stayed with their employer for 5 to 9 years, while more than 40% have remained loyal to their current company for 10 years or longer.
Millennials—also known as Generation Y and born between 1982 and about 2004—have proven themselves to be adaptive multitaskers who can adjust to any situation. This makes them assets in today’s mercurial business world. Whatever customers, coworkers or the marketplace throws at them, they’re well-equipped to adjust.
Variations in Collaboration
As is the case in any office environment, employees must be able to get along. When multigenerational teams interact, they do so in varying but complementary ways.
Millennials, for instance, favor joint efforts and group decision-making, and will openly share information for the benefit of the team. Because Gen X is comprised of entrepreneurial thinkers skilled at solving problems, these workers may be more likely to adopt a leadership role.
Baby Boomers are the most experienced generation, bringing many decades of knowledge to their role. When they’re paired with Millennials, who are typically more up-to-date on digital technology, marketing software and social media platforms, each can furnish the other with much-needed expertise.
Meeting Multi-Generation Needs
In order to keep multigenerational departments running smoothly, businesses must understand what each demographic wants and needs from the job. All have different goals and aspirations, so it’s important to identify these and keep them top of mind.
For example, a recent global study of Millennials found that 40% covet the high earning potential and opportunity to influence others that a management role affords. In their own manager, they hope to find someone who empowers employees and is an expert in their field.
Generation X, sometimes known as the “MTV Generation,” is very comfortable working independently, but can become “frustrated” by limited advancement opportunities. Giving these workers a chance to prove themselves is key.
As for Boomers, one Gallup poll shows that they’re just as engaged in their work as Generation Xers, and more engaged than Millennials. When it comes to keeping output high and Boomers happy, Gallup’s advice to organizations is to have managers make good use of Boomers’ wisdom, help them apply their talents and listen to what they have to say. This approach can help you retain your most experienced workers—along with all of their invaluable marketing know-how.
Every generation is unique, and marketing departments are better for having a mix of age groups from which to draw insight. With a deep pool of pre-screened and qualified marketing and creative candidates, we can help you build a multigenerational team so you can start tapping into its endless potential.