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Understanding a multi-generational workforce

How do you drive Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace? We’ve partnered with specialist diversity and inclusion organisations: Qlearsite, CV Library, Pearn Kandola, The Kaleidoscope Group, and the Inclusive Group to survey 7,500 Irish and UK professionals - to understand the career challenges and workplace experiences through the lenses of Gender, Ethnicity, Age and Disability.  Access the full strategic D&I report here.

With today’s workforce working for longer, this diversity brings a range of perspectives, skills, and backgrounds, but it also challenges business leaders to attract, engage, and include a multitude of different age groups in the workplace. By understanding the expectations and key challenges of these generations, Robert Walters identifies how you can position yourself as an employer of choice for all ages.

Key findings from the research:

1. It’s the first time there’s been four generations at work

Gen Z, millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers. For the first time ever, four different generations are existing in the same workplaces - presenting a significant challenge to people leaders. What motivates an 18-year-old won’t resonate with someone in their 50s, and creating a culture of belonging for such a wide range of employees is not going to be easy.

There’s the highest proportion of workers aged 65+ since records began - and with the retirement age continuing to rise, a multi-generational workforce is here to stay. So it’s time to make it work.

2. Young people have been hit hard economically 

62% of 19-24 year olds were furloughed during the pandemic - double of any other age group. Millennials were profoundly hit by the 2008 economic crisis, which the pandemic has only made worse. Simply put, young people are struggling financially. 

It’s unsurprising, then, that pay is top of mind for these groups. 41% of millennials don’t feel their pay is fair, and 20% of Gen Z employees are dissatisfied too. Employers take note: flexibility may be a big perk for this group, but pay matters too. 

3. Older groups struggle with career progression 

While younger groups aren’t happy with pay, but see more progression opportunities, employees aged 40-55+ are struggling to further their careers. One third don’t believe everyone can be successful in their organisation - and note a lack of opportunities and training.

This can be seen in their low rates of progression. 67% of 40-55 year olds haven’t been offered a promotion in their organisation at all, with only 56% getting promoted after staying for 3+ years. What’s interesting is this group’s desire to be stretched - with 30% of over 55s stating that challenging work is what they appreciate most.  

Where’s the common ground for inclusion across ages? 

One thing all groups spoke about was company culture. For the younger groups, this was around a need for a social culture - but also an inclusive one. This suggests that putting D&I on the agenda is especially important for this age group, and something expected of businesses.

For both Gen Z and baby boomers, leaders should also pay attention to culture. 28% of 40+ and 20% of over 55s don’t feel like part of a connected community - and 20% believe not being suited to the culture is the reason for their lack of progression.

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