Coming challenges in the multigenerational workplace

TAMPA, Fla. - There are some new wrinkles in the multigenerational workplace. While managers have been dealing with balancing the expectations, needs and motivation of three generations for some time now, research shows new challenges are looming.

It's no news that boomers are retiring at a much slower rate. In fact it seems retiring early is less and less appealing. While many boomers continue to work because of financial reasons, an increasing number are staying on because they like what they do. And experts say this trend will continue with people who can stay on the job into their 70s and beyond.

On the other hand, the millennials (workers in their late teens to late 20s) think nothing of job-hopping every few years. They expect to move quite frequently during their working life. While money is sometimes the motivator, most see the moves as necessary to achieve better positions, better training opportunities and more appreciation.

Generation X, people in their mid 30s to 40s are looking for pay raises, better benefits and more recognition. They are often experienced project managers or middle managers and want financial recognition, more benefits, and work/life balance. Research also shows that Gen X job seekers are the most demanding when it comes to pay, benefits and flex time.

So what does all this mean?

-- Companies must assume that younger workers will be with them for just a few years. There will always be hiring and training costs associated with this group to get them up to speed. The best way to motivate them while they are part of your workforce is through inclusion in teams, mentoring, recognition and training.

-- Employees in their middle years are increasingly motivated by the life they have outside the workplace -- their families, their interests and their personal time. While firms often try to motivate this group through traditional benefits, often key benefits like vacation time, hiring bonuses and higher pay are ignored. Yet GenXers are looking for those very things as they try to balance family and work.

-- Boomers are often the most loyal and experienced people in a company's workforce. But, many firms jettison them in their mid-50s to keep payroll and insurance costs down. Retaining productive boomers, motivating them to upgrade their skills, and improving their insurance and retirement benefits are great motivators. Since millennials will be coming and going like a revolving door, boomers can be used as mentors. That way a company can cut down on training expenses, give boomers the recognition they crave and provide the hand-holding so many millennials expect.

(Marie Stempinski, founder and president of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg, Fla., can be reached at sstratcomm@cs.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com)