Three coworkers from different generations looking and pointing at a paper

I’ve always gotten a kick out of the drama that seems to accompany new generations when they enter the workforce. In particular, I can’t help to think about the millennials who have been blamed for doing away with nearly everything.

There is truth to the idea that different generations bring their own sets of experiences and perspectives that are likely to change the way things have been done. While that may be seen as a frustration for some, there is value in new viewpoints. They lead to novel ideas, possibilities and ways of thinking. There is also value in some of our tried-and-true methods of operation.

The perceived challenge is an opportunity to appreciate diverse views and use them in a way to work better than before. That’s the gift that comes with having people from multiple backgrounds and life events working in one place. It encourages leaders to be more open, get innovative and find ways to improve the company culture to support each of its members.

In our eBook, Design an Employee-Centric Workplace, the Emergenetics® team examined some of the core elements of a motivating, engaging climate, which include:

  • Infusing purpose at work
  • Creating a sense of belonging
  • Providing holistic benefits
  • Celebrating employee voice and contributions
  • Offering growth opportunities

Discover 5 Essentials of a People-Centric Culture Click to Learn More

In it, we also reviewed data behind what different generations think about these factors and their impact to workplace culture. We found that all five aspects matter, and there are some nuances in what the parties may be looking for. I’ll give you a sneak preview below!

Growth Opportunities

93% of workers report that they stay longer when a company invests in their career development. What sorts of trainings are most intriguing may change based on age. For example, Gen Z tends to prioritize leadership and management, soft skills and mental health, while millennials may prefer mentorships and consistent feedback in addition to skills instruction.


90% of employees say receiving recognition makes them motivated to work harder, yet the way they like to be acknowledged and even what rewards may interest them are likely to be distinct. Baby Boomers often favor larger in-person celebrations whereas Gen Xers tends to gravitate toward private or small group appreciation.


According to Gallup, 64% of survey respondents noted that an increase in income or benefits was one of the most important factors when taking a new job. However, not all compensation packages have equal meaning. For instance, many Gen Xers and millennials are concerned about debt and may be drawn to options that support repayments, while Baby Boomers (at least in the United States) are often inclined to prioritize health benefits.

5 Ways to Honor Generational Differences

As executives and leaders in Human Resources consider the interests of each faction, it may seem challenging to identify policies and practices that will respect the entire workforce. To get started, follow these steps:

1) Avoid making assumptions.

First and foremost, remember that generational differences are one consideration. They are not all encompassing. In any given company, there will be staff members from multiple age groups who prefer to engage in a way that is reminiscent of another.

Taking stock of some of the concerns and interests of various age groups will help businesses to identify trends and considerations to apply as they evolve their workplaces. Just be careful to not buy into all of the hype. There are many ways that people identify, so it is essential to support each person as an individual.

2) Use assessments to expand understanding.

To create an employee-centric atmosphere that celebrates all staff, it is important that leaders, managers and individual contributors have a strong understanding of who they and their colleagues are. Assessments like Emergenetics can be an effective way to help people explore how they like to think, behave, communicate and interact.

These tools provide another lens into a person, which can remove some of the generational assumptions your workforce may have. Through an understanding of one another’s preferences, employees can see variations and similarities in their approaches and learn how to better collaborate with and honor the needs of coworkers.

3) Create an environment that welcomes differences.

Having multiple perspectives, experiences and backgrounds is a benefit to companies. When colleagues recognize the inherent value that comes from distinctions and sees them as an opportunity to discover improvements, it can promote a more positive, productive workplace.

Programs like Emergenetics can inspire people to embrace cognitive diversity. Organizations may also look to diversity trainings or workshops that explore bias to help individuals learn to appreciate and utilize varying inputs to enhance their outputs.

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4) Solicit feedback.

People – regardless of the year they were born in – are likely to seek different things from your organization whether that is about how they find meaning in their work, the sort of benefits they are looking for or what will help them feel most connected to their colleagues. That is why feedback is essential.

When launching HR or L&D initiatives, take time to get input from staff on what they are interested in and what would make their work life more meaningful. Encourage leaders and supervisors to ask for frequent feedback from direct reports so they can adapt their management styles in a way that better matches the preferences of each person.

5) Offer choices.

To promote an appealing employee experience, give staff options in how they take part in workplace activities and benefits. While I recognize that not everything can or should be discretionary, offering some variety to better appeal to a person’s needs will go a long way in establishing an environment that respects and welcomes them.

Some opportunities may include a menu of benefits to select from, supplementary trainings to participate in, choices in the rewards they receive or even the chance to join in various social events or gatherings.

While different generations are likely to introduce changes when they begin their professional careers, it is important to recognize the positive intent behind these ambitions. By designing a culture where staff feel appreciated for their insights, have a chance to speak up and an opportunity to co-create a motivating environment, employees and employers will ultimately benefit.

Want to learn more about how Emergenetics can support your entire workforce? Explore our website or fill out the form below to speak with one of our team members today!

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