As we walked around at Personal Hungary HR exhibition and sneaked a peek at the presentations, it became crystal clear that the job market presence of Generation Y and Z is one of the most urgent matters for HR experts. Among the many lectures, Dr Dolli Mester’s presentation was particularly engaging. She was talking about how to synchronize the needs of different generations at a work environment and what kind of conflicts a HR professional faces in these situations.
In the first part we focus on the importance of recruiting from all generations.
From Baby Boom to Z
The Baby Boomers were born between 1949 and 1960, and even given their age, they are the most-experienced, still-active generation on the job market. This generation is known for loyalty towards the employer and the company. They value stability and security. A Baby Boomer has usually had the time and effort needed to learn the intricacies of their position.
Generation X, the children of the ‘60s and ‘70s are also known as “digital immigrants”. They met the great inventions of the digital age as teenagers or adults. They tended to greet new technology with openness and enthusiasm. This means that they are comfortable with online communication (which is primarily e-mail in their case in a business environment) and the more traditional phone conversation as well, but they prefer personal communication, whenever possible. Internet might play an important role in their life, but it is rarely a must.
Career is important to them but they try to keep a good balance between work and private life. Generally, they are a determined, independent and focused generation. The subject of their loyalty is their profession, not necessarily the company. They are patient with the wait for results, they pay more attention to details and they are better at focusing on one task at a time than the following generations. Time management is also their strength and they look for the best, not the quickest solution.
People born between 1980 and 1995 grew up with computers. They are Generation Y or the Millennials, who use digital technology as a natural skill. Accordingly, they tend to prefer online communication over phone calls.
They truly believe in the concept of lifelong learning. They often have multiple qualifications and degrees, and they perceive well-structured workplace trainings as a prize rather than a must. They value freedom and flexibility in a working environment, yet, they crave for mentoring and feedback.
Members of Generation Z – also known as the “digital natives” – were born between 1996 and 2007. They are the children of the digital age: surrounded by computers, smartphones, IPads, and internet since their first day of life. They use the available technology without any difficulty, this is not a skill but a basic function for them. They aren’t too bashful about using informal online interfaces – like casual social media sites – to collect information or to discuss even business topics.
We don’t need to wonder further than demographic data to see the answer clearly: definitely yes. Following the natural circle of life, older generations leave their active working phase behind, and the gap needs to be filled with the members of younger generations. The pace of the shift indeed matters.
According to JobsPikr’s estimations, Millennials will have a 75% share of the US job market within 5 years. We charted the tendencies in progress in a bit more detail based on the Hungarian job market thanks to the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (KSH).
Based on the past ten years statistics on the age of actively working, we predicted the changes expectable in the near future. One of the most noticeable difference is the Baby Boomers’ almost complete disappearance from the job market: by 2020 only the 4% of active workers will belong to this generation, by 2025 this number will shrink to 1%.
In 2020, Generation X will still rule the job market (as a bit less than half of all actively working), but Generation Y will closely follow, and take the lead by 2025. Generation Z also needs to be accounted for: by 2020, Zs will outnumber Baby Boomers in the world of work, by 2025, they will reach the significant share of 17%.
To sum up Dr. Dolli Mester’s take on the subject at Personal Hungary, we need to be prepared to experience some friction within the working space. Baby Boomers, who believe in traditional hierarchy more than the younger ones, or even the members of Generation X may be startled by the bluntness of Generation Y and Z. According to the expert, tension often originates from the fact that the new generations dare to ask for conditions that the other generations might have desired but didn’t request, especially as fresh employees. Also, Generation Y and Z are not always enthusiastic about the often inflexible working hours that the more experienced colleagues already adopted.
Still, the whole presentation boiled down to one significant conclusion: the outcome primarily depends on the viewpoint. With a positive attitude, members of different generations can not only understand, but complement and help each other in numerous ways.
If a company wants to have the best of human resources, it is worth recruiting employees from multiple age groups. This way, the potential in each generation adds up to the collective strength of the team. If an open and supportive work environment is created, employees with different background can help each other grow together.
Baby Boomers and Xs are perfect mentors for Generation Y and Z, who are craving for feedback and constant learning. Putting their patience and excellent communication skills into good use, Baby Boomers and members of Gen X can pass down their stable professional knowledge and the real tricks of business to the younger generations. They can create a supportive and protective atmosphere where Generation Y and Z can really bloom.
As far as technology is concerned, the “digital natives” can be a real asset to the team. With more and more workflows automatized or at least software assisted, the leading position of a company can hinge upon their utilization of available technology. Generation Y and Z – being surrounded by programs and internet from an early age – learn to use new solutions with ease, they naturally click through the functions, and even discover hidden potentials in the available tools. It might happen that they will help the more experienced colleagues when the company decides on adopting a cutting-edge tool.
Besides, the younger generations, who value creative thinking above many qualities, may bring innovative ideas to the team. As they are less devoted to company hierarchy, they are more likely to dare to share their opinion even on their very first day at work. It usually requires the support of a whole team to take an idea to solution, though. During the actualization, the team can benefit from the Baby Boomer’s professional knowledge and precision and from Generation X’s critical thinking and communication skills. If all goes well, the generation who voted for lifelong learning will pick up the skillset and tactics necessary for execution during the process.
What Does It Mean for Recruiters?
In our next article, you can read about the practices that help to recruit the promising Generation Y and Z.
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