Work Smarter//

There Are 5 Distinct Generations of Employees in the Workplace for the First Time — and It’s Created the Need for Companies to Hire ‘Generational Consultants’ to Keep Them All Happy

No, it's not because millennials are difficult.

fizkes / Shutterstock
fizkes / Shutterstock

US workplaces have become a melting pot of generations.

As Jazmine Hughes puts it for The New York Times Magazine, five different generations are gathering around the conference table for the first time: Silent Gen, baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z.

The result is what Hughes calls a “culture clash,” where different generations are vying for the same role in some industries and younger workers are bringing a digital skill set that older managers aren’t familiar with.

To create a more harmonious environment and better understand generational differences, companies are turning to “generational consultants” who offer advice on how to work with different age groups in the workplace, Hughes wrote. These consultants teach managers to deliver on differing workplace needs and skills across generations and attract new talent; it’s particularly helpful for older generations trying to understand the digitally-savvy youth.

Consider Clio Knowles, vice president of People, who hired consultancy service Gen Guru to help attract more Gen Z workers to a new Virgin hotel chain. As she told Hughes, “You can’t just keep doing the same things that worked for one generation.”

Younger workers are changing the workplace

The rise of generational consultants is evidence of how younger workers are contributing to the evolution of the workplace. 

Studies show that baby boomers are more driven by loyalty than younger generations and more likely to work for the same company for longer periods of time, reported Stephanie Taylor for Business Insider. In contrast, millennials are less afraid to change jobs or work independently. They also want the potential for growth and are more motivated by their ability to make an impact wherever they work.

Glassdoor chief economist Andrew Chamberlain previously told Business Insider that younger workers feel more comfortable asking for perks that older generations may not have, such as paid time off or work-from-home benefits. Gen Z and millennial workers are also more likely to ask for a promotion in their first year at work, reported Business Insider’s Allana Akhtar, and managers are responding by throwing  “workversary” parties and handing out new titles. 

While some hiring managers believe young workers feel “entitled” to perks or high pay, other researchers say older generations have always had bias against young workers: “If you go back in time, boomers were also referred to as the ‘me generation,'” Michael Wood, founder of the research firm 747 Insights, told Business Insider’s Libby Kane.

This bias has caused managers to “blow it” with millennials, Miami University professor Megan Gerhardt wrote in a post for Business Insider. Instead of viewing millennials as a partner in navigating the changing world, she said, managers viewed them as a threat to traditional ways.

Now that Gen Z is entering the workplace, she wrote, it’s important to not give them the same adverse treatment millennials received. Gerhardt called for an approach in which younger employees can use their insights to innovate and older generations can provide guidance in helping those ideas get traction. 

Sounds like generational consultants could help with that.

This article was originally published on Business Insider.

More from Business Insider:

Stop trying to make your employees happy — fulfill them instead

I didn’t take maternity leave as a self-employed worker, and I regret it

American workers say jobs should do more to help them cope with mental health issues like depression and stress

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