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Multigenerational Workforce: Why we need to accommodate them all?

Tuesday September 28, 2021, By Janani Sampath

There was a time when corporates wanted younger employees to realize the fullest potential of their workforce. However, a multigenerational workforce has a lot more to offer, with an eclectic mix of attributes unique to every generation.

A recent study by Microsoft and IDC, which surveyed 439 business decision-makers and 438 workers in India over six months before and after the COVID outbreak, found out that 3 out of 10 businesses in the country have begun to focus on a multicultural workforce, apart from a multigenerational workforce.

A multigenerational workforce comprises a mix of generations from baby boomers (1946-1964), generation X (1965-1980), generation Y (1981-2000), and generation Z (born after 2001).

Every gen is unique

An earlier study by Avtar titled ‘Generational Diversity in Workforce’ published in the International Journal of Managerial Studies and Research (IJMSR) in 2014, has listed out the advantages of such a workforce, unraveling the innate capabilities of each generation. As per the report, the four distinct cohorts identified were — The Free Gens (born between 1945 and 1960), the Gen Xs, E-Gen (born between 1971 and 1980), and the Gen Ys. The study took into consideration the formative years of every generation to arrive at their attributes. Each of these had its unique set of competencies that could be of business advantage. The report pointed out, “There were conflicting priorities amongst generations that need to be re-adjusted to attain the same. The Free Gens, the oldest cohort in active work, were great team players. But one of their weaknesses was social shyness, which could be overcome through collaborative efforts. The Gen Xs, who are adequately techno literate have aggressive approaches to growth – the colleagues of Gen Xs need to be accommodative of these approaches to benefit from Gen X leadership. The E-Gens value educational attainments; however, they were found to have strongly polarized opinions, and they need to revisit opinions with objectivity in times of conflict. The Gen Ys, who have either made their way up or moving up in the corporate Indian network, are ambitious and have positive outlooks towards work. With a significant percentage of Gen Xs retiring from active work, organizations should initiate means for fair succession planning and knowledge transfer.”

Gen Z is here

Gen Z has begun entering the workforce, occupying the entry positions. Some of their definitive traits are being tech-savvy—- having grown up in the era that saw a technology boom which is only exploding since then— independent, pragmatic, and value money a lot. They are also the ones who tread the unconventional path. The cohort will zoom past Gen Y in the coming years, in terms of percentage in the workforce.

A multigenerational workforce is challenging to deal with,  even as they come with their own sets of advantages and varied approaches to a situation or task. However, an organization has to devise strategies to tap into the exhaustive pool of talent.

As the Avtar report notes, ‘it is equally important to take proactive measures to prevent conflicts between different generations that could impede the company’s productivity and tamper its work culture.’

Author Profile

Janani Sampath
Janani Sampath
With close to 15 years of experience in journalism across beats in multiple mediums, Janani Sampath is senior content writer and assistant editor, Diversity Digest.
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