LIMA — Generational differences in the workplace are complicating recruitment strategies and corporate policies as employers try to balance the expectations and needs of five generations, with millennials and Generation Z demanding more work-life balance and higher pay.
Employers are still adapting to these evolving expectations, with millennials now the largest cohort in the workforce.
“You have to think about that in your recruiting plan,” said Karen Grothouse, chief executive officer of Spherion staffing agency in Lima.
Grothouse and Robin Bowlus, vice president of enrollment management for Bluffton University, shared strategies to handle generational differences in the workplace during the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce’s annual breakfast on Friday.
“Millennials are talking about work-life balance. They introduced work-life balance to all of us,” Grothouse said.
But money, she said, is still the top reason why workers accept a job offer or quit their job. There are generational differences here too: In Spherion’s most recent emerging workforce study, Grothouse said 52% of millennials and 44% of Generation Z workers believed today’s job market allows them to demand higher salaries, compared to just 37% of all workers surveyed.
Managers are re-evaluating internal communication strategies to acknowledge generational trends too. On this front, Bowlus encouraged Lima’s business community to consider how their interactions with workers outside their own generation may unintentionally offend or discourage productivity.
Baby Boomers, Bowlus said, prefer a mix of email and face-to-face communication, while millennials and Generation Z are often intimidated by face-to-face meetings when no explanation is given.
But even though these meetings may be intimidating, Bowlus said millennials still desire prompt feedback and meaningful interactions. And Generation Z expects frequent in-person check-ins with managers, but prefer to keep these interactions short and direct.
Generation X, meanwhile, would rather keep communication short and blunt, preferably over email, Bowlus explained.
While Bowlus encouraged the group to be more aware of generational communication styles — and how body language or passive communication can cause interpersonal problems — she cautioned against stereotyping employees based on age, as individual employees will have their own needs that stray from generational trends.
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.