Diversity is a key concept for many hiring managers and organizations today, but one particular type of diversity continues to go underappreciated in certain industries and markets. Age diversity–which is to say, building a staff from people of different generations–offers a range of key benefits. It’s important to understand generational strengths, values, and trends. While it’s easy to assume everyone at work is either a millennial or a boomer, the reality is that there are currently at least four generations active in the workforce to varying degrees.

Each generation has its own unique characteristics. Understanding these characteristics and how to use them effectively to meet your own unique staffing needs can still be valuable.

Let’s zoom in on the four generations that account for most of the job applicants today:

  • Baby Boomers – Folks born in the post-war “baby boom” of the 40s, 50s, and 60s continue to hold a significant percentage of jobs and will continue to do so as retirement ages creep upwards for some industries. 
    • Work Ethic – Having been raised by a generation who had no choice but to respond to serious hardships like economic depression and global war, baby boomers tend to value hard work and a sense of duty.
    • Loyalty – Many older employees remember entering the workforce in an era where a person expected to stay at the same job for decades, sometimes even their entire adult life. Incidentally, they may have highly specialized skill sets from holding long-term roles of this sort.
  • Generation X – While media tropes might paint Gen X as a sort of “forgotten generation,” you can’t afford to forget these valuable employees in your hiring strategies. These 70s and 80s kids are self-sufficient problem solvers who can bridge gaps between technological and practical concepts.
    • Career-Minded – As Generation X workers age, they’ll place more value on a stable career with clear paths to promotions and ample professional development opportunities.
    • Independent Work Style – Gen-X workers tend to be efficient, adaptable, and well-suited to roles that require working independently.
  • Millennials – For millennials, the employment landscape has been a raging sea of change and challenge for their entire working lives, so there’s very little that can phase them. Many have unique experiences from gig work or various side hustles that they can bring to the table.
    • Tech Savvy – Millennials represent the pinnacle of tech skills because they grew up in a time when the internet and mobile phone technology were fast becoming ubiquitous. However, there were still plentiful tech hiccups that required a person to learn technology beyond a surface level to use it effectively.
    • Work-Life Balance – Unlike previous generations, who may be more content with proudly defining their lives through their work, millennials demand clear boundaries between their work and their personal lives.
  • Generation Z – People born after 1997 make up an increasing share of the workforce each year, so it’s time to start considering them in your recruiting and hiring strategies. They value personal connections, diverse workplaces, and socially responsible organizations.
    • Inclusive Workplace Culture – Today’s young adults have grown up in a more diverse and connected world than ever before, and they naturally expect their workplaces to reflect this reality.
    • Flexibility – You may find that your “Zoomer” employees appreciate options like remote work, videoconferencing, and flexible scheduling just as much as–or even more than–your millennial staff members.

By understanding some of the unique values and work styles that have come to define each generation, forward-thinking companies can foster inclusive environments that maximize each individual employee’s skills and background. Generational diversity can strengthen collaboration and spark innovation, driving organizational success in today’s ever-shifting business world.

For more great insights into modern hiring and the tech that fuels it, bookmark the Stang HireScore blog.