The U.S. labor market is an increasingly diverse workforce when it comes to age as more and more Millennials enter the labor force and U.S. workers stay on the job longer. Here are three top causes business owners need to champion in organizations with a multi-generational workforce.

Business Owners Must Successfully Cultivate 3 Things for a Multi-generational Workforce

1. An Organizational Culture that Works for Everyone

Life expectancy in the U.S. is at a record high and more Americans are staying in the workforce to an older age; for instance, in 2015, workers aged 65 and up outnumbered teenage workers for the first time since 1948. Indeed, between 1977 and 2007, while the numbers of workers aged 16 to 24 increased by 59 percent, the growth rate for older generations was even higher:

  • 101% more workers aged 65 or older
  • 75% more men in the workforce aged 65 or older
  • 147% more women in the workforce aged 65 or older
  • 172% more workers aged 75 or older.

Business owners and human resources leaders are increasingly faced with unique challenges directly related to managing a multi-generational workforce, especially in bigger organizations. One of these challenges is how to nurture an organizational culture that works for everyone, regardless of generational divides.

Multi-generational work forces in large organizations, in particular, are likely to have a significant number of workers represented in each generation. Each of which (generally speaking) leadership styles, work ethics, world views, and wage and benefit needs that vary significantly from one another.

When considering how to nurture an organizational culture that is conducive to success across the four-generation workforce that currently exists in the U.S. (Millennials, Generation Y, Generation X and Baby Boomers), leaders have to consider the issues of work-life balance, the role of technology, and factors that result in high levels of employee engagement as they pertain to generational characteristics.

For instance, Millennials may be less likely to accept work that impinges on their family or personal life than member of older generations. Members of younger generations also have more experience with technology and are less likely to find a workplace attractive that prohibits use of social media and personal technology.

While the factors that produce employee engagement among younger workers may be vastly different than those that stimulate engagement for older workers, organizations that purposefully shape and manage internal culture may naturally enjoy higher levels of employee engagement across all generations.

2. Flexible Benefits Options

The benefit and compensation packages that will appeal to top talent across generations in a multi-generational workforce may vary widely, from preferences and needs regarding health and wellness to paid and unpaid time off, educational reimbursement and training, and so on.

Even worker preferences for the way benefits are communicated and managed (or self-managed) may be widely disparate by age range. Human Resources can bridge these gaps by giving employees more ability to tailor their own options and ensuring that benefits are communicated in multiple formats (written, in-person, digital, etc.)

3. Relatable Leaders Who Value and Bring Out the Best in Workers of Any Generation

Seven out of 10 of U.S. Human Resources pros surveyed in a Randstad Sourceright Talent Trend Report listed managing a multi-generational workforce as one of their biggest challenges. With a workforce now representative of Millennials, Generation Y, Generation X and Baby Boomers, the report summarizes that “companies need to look to developing a balance of different incentives to engage, motivate, and ultimately improve workplace productivity.”

Regardless of age, the individuals who emerge as the most successful leaders in succeeding years will be those who members of any age group find relatable. These leaders will have an innate or learned ability to value the workers who report to them for their strengths as well as to bring out the best in them, regardless of the generation in which they may fall within the multi-generational workforce.

Indeed, HR Executive Online points out that Millennials are coming into their own, emerging as new leaders within the workforce, noting that HR leaders in large companies devote time and resources to development and retention of these emerging leaders who will “morph into leaders who will, in turn, guide the subsequent generation.”

The U.S. labor market is evolving and will continue to evolve with the emergence of each new generation of worker. Consequently, the challenge business owners and HR professionals face in helping to foster an organizational culture attractive to talented individuals across or regardless generational divides will continue to be an ever-present one.