Typically, definitions of diversity focus on attributes like race and gender. In recent years, however, the most interesting diversity issue as it relates to the workforce may be the generational division, with five generations working together.
With so many generations in one place, it’s important to understand the differences and impact of each. Let’s take a look at each of the five generations that could be part of your day-to-day work life.
Traditionalists. Born before 1945, this group is also sometimes referred to as the “Silent Generation.” Today many Americans are working well into their 70s, as Bloomberg shared, for four main reasons: they need the income, they enjoy continuing to work, their knowledge is a valuable asset to employers, and they’re living longer, healthier lives. They are often described as hardworking, loyal, sometimes technology-challenged, and respectful of authority.
Baby Boomers. Boomers, born between 1946-1964, share many of the same reasons as Traditionalists for remaining in the workforce. They can be described as independent, goal-oriented, competitive, and driven towards self-actualization.
Generation X. Those who belong to Gen X were born between 1965-1976. They are most known for wanting work/life balance and flexibility. They strive for quality in their work, and see themselves as a marketable commodity.
Millennials. While the specific birth years can vary from source to source, Millennials were generally born between 1977-1995, and are the largest demographic in the workforce today. Millennials are the most talked about generation, given their preferences in the workplace have caused the biggest shift across the business environment. Many Millennials are reported to be team-oriented, technologically-savvy, and require feedback on their work.
Generation Z. This generation was born after 1996, making them the youngest entrants into the workforce. They’re often lumped in with Millennials, but have distinct differences. Some of these unique traits include being “tech-intuitive” vs. just tech-savvy, interested in social responsibility and causes, and — because they grew up during the Great Recession — are typically ready to work and strive for financial stability.
One thing to keep in mind when we talk about diversity is that we sometimes see discrimination. Yet what we know for certain is that the gig economy doesn’t play favorites when it comes to the generations in the workforce. Each has its place and, for unique reasons, is a fit for on-demand work.
What’s the biggest benefit for businesses who utilize an on-demand workforce? Access to a wider pool of qualified, untapped talent — regardless of the generation. These aren’t the same workers filling out applications for your company or available exclusively via a traditional staffing firm. On-demand workers are often looking for shifts, not jobs, and the distinction is important. By only asking them to commit to one shift at a time, they're a great fit to supplement your full-time staff quickly and easily despite fluctuating needs, without compromising on quality and reliability.