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An infographic about keeping your multigenerational workforce engaged
A WHITE PAPER PROVIDED BY ULTIMATE STAFFING
Curmudgeonly Boomers, Skeptical Xers, Entitled Millennials – even a few Traditionalists and members of Gen Z – all occupy the working population. A multigenerational workforce brings diverse viewpoints, differing skill sets, and a mix of experience and eagerness. But finding and managing this extraordinary talent is not successful without strategy.
That diversity comes with its own challenges. In order to cultivate the benefits of an age-diverse workplace, you must recruit fairly and with intention and then continue to foster an engaging environment of understanding.
T-T-Talking ‘bout my Generation
Three generations make up almost all of the workforce: (dates vary according to the source, but generally speaking)
Baby Boomers (born from 1946 to 1964)
- Teamwork and cooperation
Generation X (born from 1965 to 1980)
- Balances work and personal life
Millennials (born from 1981 to 2000)
- Meaningful work
- Diversity and change valued
- Technology savvy
(American Psychological Association)
These stereotypes serve as a quick fix for understanding. However, the New Kids on the Block, the forgotten Middle Children, and the “get off my lawn” Elders can often be mischaracterized. Shared experience leads to similar characteristics and behaviors, but they should not dismiss employees as dynamic humans.
Relying too heavily on these can create an implicit bias, leading to unfair and ineffective hiring and management tactics. At worst, these stereotypes can lead to discrimination and/or a failure to understand your employees beyond the dimension of age.
Luckily, while employees of different generations are different, they’re not that different. And there are one-size-fits-all tactics that you can employ that can create a fair and engaging environment for everyone involved.
How you find candidates, and how you engage them pre-hire, will affect your age diversity. Make sure you are prepared.
Never under or overestimate a candidate’s ability to find you.
The Online Revolution
Finding and being found by age-diverse candidates requires presence. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 54% of Americans researched jobs online, and 45% have applied for a job online – more than double the number in 2005. Candidates of all ages are continuing the migration into the digital age.
When creating an online job posting, your language will make all the difference. Be aware of age-discriminating phrases, like “recent graduates” or “old-school.”
In addition to the basics of the position, include information about internal practices and cultural fit, candidly and objectively. Be honest about workplace practices and culture – not everyone is looking for a ping pong table and casual attire.
Once they see your online job posting, they are likely going to check your website and social media pages. Prepare your website to greet them – begin with updating your website with the most accurate information about your organization, including cultural practices.
You don’t necessarily need a custom app, but you do need to ensure that your website and respective job postings across platforms are mobile-friendly. Make sure to test your mobile-capability for yourself from the jobseeker’s point of view.
Jobseekers are also likely to look to your social media pages to get a better feel for your company, especially sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn. Currently, social media use expands to all generations.
% of US Adults who use at least one social media site:
Age 18 -29: 86%
Age 30-49: 80%
Age 50-64: 64%
Age 65+: 34%
Even if they do not have an active profile on that site, jobseekers will be able to see those pages via a Google search. They will look to your Facebook, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Instagram pages for more information and a candid look inside. Actively update and maintain your social media pages, and make sure your organization’s values and culture shines through, and gives an accurate and honest look into your workplace.
Some Things Never Go Out of Style…
However, online techniques, while easier, may alienate older candidates or those without regular internet access. If you are only receiving attention from a certain age group, this technique may not be fair. Be sure to utilize more “traditional” methods of recruiting, including job fairs, referrals, and print ads. Partnering with an organization like Ultimate Staffing can ensure a wider influence and a fairer candidate audience, and efficiently fill a position.
Interviews are your first opportunity to broaden your understanding of a candidate.
In interviewing, once again, be wary of language. It’s not illegal to ask how old someone is, but it can make them feel uncomfortable.
Avoid phrases like these, some of them are rude, some are illegal:
- How old are you?
- You’re overqualified.
- When do you plan on retiring?
- In my experience, Boomers/Xers/ Millennials are…
- You have too much energy/not enough energy.
- Do you have children? Do you plan to?
- Do you think you’re old enough to handle this responsibility?
- We know young people tend to job hop…
- When did you graduate?
- What’s your childcare arrangement?
Good thing there are plenty of other things to discuss in an interview. All jobseekers want to know more about your organization. The interview is your chance to dazzle them as well. Regardless of age, jobseekers want fair pay, comprehensive benefits, and a complementary work culture. Throw these conversation topics around like confetti.
Don’t assume that only candidates of a certain age group are interested in certain programs. Lay out all programs and allow for plenty of questions.
In a survey of more than 200 HR professionals, 90% of respondents rated recruiting for culture fit as “very important” to “essential.” Be sure to include culture-based questions and provide honest information about the culture. Don’t skew perceptions of your culture based on the candidate. Make sure their first day – and career – will be everything it’s promised to be.
As you get to know candidates, remember that age can limit exposure to certain practices and experiences. However, you can teach skills (to an extent), you can’t teach culture fit. Your organization’s values know no age. If a candidate is a stellar culture fit, don’t pass them over – no one is too young or old to learn anything.
Before, after, and during the interview, take moments of selfassessment: am I making fair inferences? You can fight stereotypes simply by reflecting on any biases. If you feel as though you cannot interview fairly, it’s best to ask for assistance.
Once you have recruited this fabulous, culturally sound, age-diverse workforce, dedicated practices will keep them engaged and turnover low.
Involved, passionate employees are more productive, more profitable, and build your organization’s culture. Engaged workers consistently outperform non-engaged employees. They provide better service to your customers, remain loyal longer, and are better teammates.
However, it’s unrealistic to have custom policies for certain coworkers. Fortunately, engaging programs and policies know no age limit.
According to Quantum Workplace, while there are many factors of engagement, they can be narrowed down to three themes:
- Confidence in Leadership
- The Organization’s Commitment to Valuing Employees
- Positive Outlook on the Future
This research coincides with our own internal research for employee engagement. We found the 3 main drivers of employee engagement to be:
- “I have confidence in my leaders’ directions and decisions”
- “Work culture brings out the best in me”
- “[The organization] is interested in my growth and development”
Engagement is crucial for all employees, but there is no quick fix. However, the practices you implement will contribute to that engagement.
Programs will serve as the base, but engagement is solidified though everyday efforts and interactions. Active efforts of inclusion go beyond the diversity of representation and create cohesive, efficient, and dynamic teams.
These programs can cater to all employees while serving their unique needs.
Pay & Benefits
Employees cannot even begin to look towards engagement if their most basic needs are not met. Provide comprehensive benefits and be sure to calculate salaries objectively, focusing on experience and skill rather than age. To ensure fairness, check out our 2017 Salary Guide here.
All people have an optimal stress point, where an individual has enough stress to be motivated but not so much that they become overwhelmed. Boomers are more likely to occupy senior leadership roles and be overwhelmed, while Millennials in entrylevel jobs may not have enough. Create an open dialogue and share responsibilities to moderate stress.
Your employees have a lot to learn from one another. Create mentor and reverse mentor programs to increase exposure and teamwork. Retention is 25% higher for employees who have engaged in company-sponsored mentoring. (Deloitte)
Lead with Transparency
Transparent leadership and practices promote fairness, reduce jealousy, and boost connectedness.
Structured Career Paths
Regardless of where they are in their careers, there are always opportunities for growth. Amongst engaged employees, 96% have a clear idea of what is expected of them and 81% say their supervisor takes an interest in their career development (Quantum Workplace). Knowing exactly what is expected of them helps everyone get ahead, and can reduce jealousy and misunderstandings surrounding promotions and growth.
Recognition Amongst engaged employees, 83% receive recognition for a job well done (Quantum Workplace). It’s not only millennials who want recognition, 50% of employees who don’t feel valued plan to look for another job in the next year. Create a structured program to praise and recognize employees. For more information and tips on recognition, check out our White Paper here.
Ongoing Education and Training
Technology is developing and advancing all the time, be sure coworkers of all ages have the opportunity to learn before they are replaced.
Promote a dialogue and survey frequently so employees can voice their opinions and concerns. Survey to understand employees rather than evaluate how you are doing. Then respond appropriately and take action based on those results, do not allow issues to fester. According to TNS Employee Insights, 70% of those employees who are engaged agree that their organization takes action based on survey results.
It’s not mandatory for employees to participate, it’s mandatory for you to create opportunities. Allow for coworkers to intermingle in relaxed environments away from work. This can include happy hours, volunteer efforts, and team competitions. Know that people tend to socially prefer people closer to their own age, so create dedicated efforts to encourage employees to get to know one another.
Once those programs are implemented, it’s up to leadership and team managers to create a fair environment. They set the tone and foster day to day collaboration and are champions for inclusion.
Can’t we all just get along?
Raised with different parenting methods, historical events, technological advances, and general experiences, conflict is inevitable – but not insurmountable.
The villain is not time or each other, it’s a lack of communication and understanding. Don’t allow yourself to get absorbed into the stereotypical generational differences, instead focus on the real root of the problem and utilize traditional methods of conflict resolution.
For instance, if an Xer is frustrated with a Millennial’s lack of ability to work independently, the problem is likely not that the Millennial needs constant validation and participation trophies. It is more likely that the Millennial did not receive the training that they needed. Use generational stereotypes to understand, not condemn or dismiss.
The Responsibility of Inclusion
To promote inclusion, keep an eye out for teammates who may be treating other employees unfairly, and promote plenty of teamwork and collaboration. Let employees be their authentic selves, but discourage exclusionary behaviors.
Unite your team towards a common cause. All generations are looking for meaning in their work. A shared purpose goes beyond our understanding of age. To learn more about facilitating a shared purpose, read our White Paper here.
Generational differences are nothing new. We have worked through them in the past and will continue to do so. However, with dedicated efforts and programs, we can make teams even more efficient and effective.
Tips from Within
James Sense is a Regional Vice President for Roth Staffing Companies (parent company of Ultimate Staffing Services). He manages several teams across Southern California, with ages ranging from recent college graduates to some of Ultimate Staffing’s most tenured coworkers. Check out his tips for managing a multigenerational workforce:
“Managing different generations can sometimes be difficult, but I have found that if we learn to recognize strengths within the generations, we can take advantage of these strengths to unite as one unstoppable team. The more we can collaborate, intermixing different generations and viewpoints, the more the teams will learn what the tenured coworkers can offer and the tenured coworkers can learn from the newer coworkers new ideas of doing the same tasks. I think as a manager today, we have to focus on the overall result, not how it gets done.”
Attracting casual job seekers in a candidate-driven job market
It’s a candidate’s market, we just live in it. Unemployment has fallen below 5%, and the demand for new talent only continues to grow. According to Glassdoor, 90% of recruiters agree that the market is in the candidates’ favor. When available talent dwindles, you have to find them.
Only a few candidates are actively seeking new opportunities. LinkedIn states that 25% are actively looking for new work, with 2/3 of them currently employed. Meanwhile, 75% of jobseekers are considered passive, employed but open to new opportunities. These candidates are called passive candidates or non-candidates. They are the majority of talent available.
Passive jobseekers shouldn’t be a last resort. Instead, actively strategize a recruiting approach that allows you to reach out to those who are currently employed. Their casual approach to a job search requires a dedicated technique.
This “non-candidate” pool is where the majority of talent is and can result in the best hires.
Desire & Intent
With the demand for candidates high, and the availability of talent low, top performers have the luxury of being able to find new work somewhat easily. While Millennials are labelled as “job-hoppers,” more frequent career change is a phenomenon expanding across all generations and industries.
A survey by Willis Towers Watson states 3 in 10 employees say they are likely to leave their employer within the next two years. The average tenure has decreased
from 4.6 years in January 2014 to 4.2 years in January 2016 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Meanwhile, only 15% of workers are completely satisfied and don’t want to move on to another company (LinkedIn).
Job-hopping and dissatisfaction elsewhere can work in your favor. With satisfaction low and intent to leave somewhat moderate, employees are more likely to be open to a passive candidate experience.
Casually talking to recruiters or browsing the occasional job post are relatively low risk methods of exploring new opportunities.
Even satisfied workers glance at outside opportunities. While 80% of passive jobseekers are satisfied in their current job (LinkedIn), almost 60% of workers look at other jobs at least monthly (Indeed). Platforms like LinkedIn and Glassdoor introduce new opportunities to passive candidates on a daily or weekly basis. Meanwhile, 84% of candidates would consider leaving their current company if another company with an excellent reputation offered them a job (Glassdoor).
In 2015, 75% of workers with new jobs hadn’t actively applied for the position, they were “poached” or referred (FRBSF Economic Research). Seeking passive candidates is common practice, for reasons beyond necessity.
Another untapped resource lies in former employees: 40% say they’d consider returning to their former company (Workplacetrends). These are called boomerang employees. You already know their skills and culture fit, and they know what to expect from your workplace.
Passive Candidate, Active Results
Passive candidates have up-to-date experience, in-demand skills, and current industry knowledge. They likely won’t have a gap in their resume. They are also 120% more likely to want to make an impact, 33% more likely to want more challenging work, and 17% less likely to need skill development (Undercover Recruiter).
Passive candidate performance was rated 9% higher than active candidates, and these individuals were 25% more likely to stay with an organization long-term (CEB Recruiting Leadership Council Global Labour Market Briefing).
However, these perks come at a cost: 32% of passive candidates expect a salary increase of more than 15% if approached by recruiters, and that figure rises to 51%
if the job in question requires relocation (Indeed).
They are harder to find and are less likely to jump through hoops. To get their attention, they require a great deal of flexibility in your talent acquisition process.
The 3 P’s of Passive Candidates
Passive candidates are less likely to find you, less likely to participate in long hiring processes, and less likely to take the leap without plenty of information. No matter the circumstance, a new job requires risk and therefore trust. To attract passive candidates, the process must be quick, informative, effective, and friendly.
When pursuing passive candidates, you must have a plan: be prepared, be proactive, and be persistent. While these steps may feel numerous, they are the building blocks of a comprehensive strategy that will lure in both active and passive candidates.
- Culture: Before you begin your attempts to attract new employees, focus on creating an engaging culture for your current employees. The right culture will keep your current employees from job-hopping and turn them into your biggest advocates in attracting future employees.
- Referrals: Encourage your employees to join the Create a referral reward program to increase your prospects. Referrals tend to be faster, cheaper, and have higher retention rates.
- Resources: Be sure you have the resources available to capture the attention of passive jobseekers. Be prepared to make a competitive offer and have opportunities available for advancement.
- Online Presence: Update your website and social media pages to appropriately reflect your culture and other Be sure your site is mobilefriendly for casual, passive browsing. Pay close attention to your Glassdoor page so candidates can gain a candid understanding of your workplace.
- Simplify: Streamline your application process and simplify your hiring process to move prospects along quickly (click here to read our White Paper). Be sure to test your online application process yourself from a candidate’s perspective.
- LinkedIn and Beyond: This will be one of your most powerful tools, but only if you use it LinkedIn is a dynamic community of both active and passive jobseekers. But how you interact with them may change the outcome.
- LinkedIn and Beyond: This will be one of your most powerful tools, but only if you use it correctly. LinkedIn is a dynamic community of both active and passive jobseekers. But how you interact with them may change the outcome.According to Social Talent, 81% of recruiters choose to send a LinkedIn “connect request” or InMail first to engage a passive candidate; but only 14% take the time to send an email, and only 5% try to reach out through a phone call. Utilize LinkedIn, but don’t be afraid to go beyond it. Send personalized messages and follow up with other forms of communication.
Make sure your profile is professional, up-to-date and utilized regularly. Share articles and posts, especially ones that would apply to someone who may be looking for a new job.
- Meet Needs and Expectations: Give passive candidates a comprehensive view of what this job change will look like and what they can expect in the new position.
- Research: Gain an understanding of the candidate: their current position, their past positions, their passion projects, their volunteer work, etc. The more you know about them, the better you can understand them, their needs, and the potential impact on your organization.
Tips from Within
Kelli Dobbins is a seasoned recruitment professional and a National Talent Engagement Manager at Roth Staffing Companies, the parent company of Ultimate Staffing Services. Roth just wrapped up its biggest hiring year in history, increasing headcount to its workforce by 20% year over year. Kelli has filled positions ranging from entry-level opportunities to leadership roles.
Here’s her advice on winning over passive candidates:
“Double down on the communication with candidates you are working with and stay in touch frequently (via phone, text and/or email).
“Take time to get to know who they are, what their future goals are and what is going to be important to them in a new role, rather than trying to sell them a specific opening we have right now. It’s much less transactional… and more of a process of building a relationship. I like to keep track of the passive candidates I speak to and remember to reach out quarterly, just so they know that I haven’t forgotten about them.”
- Maintain: Stay in touch with former employees. Send holiday cards and check in on LinkedIn. Not only can they become boomerang employees, but they can also provide referrals.
- Patience: Just because a candidate isn’t ready or available now, doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. Keep in contact without being overwhelming.
- Meeting Places: Passive candidates will likely not want their current employers to know they are looking. Allow for calls beyond normal business hours and meetings in less-public places.
- Diversity: Jobseekers use up to 16 sources in their job search, while passive jobseekers may use none. Advertise openings on non-job centric sites, like Facebook or Instagram, to attract those who are not frequently on LinkedIn. Diversify your platform search and presence, so you can find and be found.
Being recruited is flattering, so allow yourself to get involved in the excitement. Passive candidates are an elusive entity and in hot demand. But with a dedicated strategy, you can improve both your passive and active candidate prospects.
Although inconvenient, a limited pool of candidates is a good thing. It means the economy is improving. Jobseekers now have more opportunities and you have the chance to be part of their journey. You can be the dream job someone doesn’t know they’re looking for.