Your average IT department is an interesting place to be. In one corner you have Millennials, who grew up with cutting edge technology at their sticky fingertips. In another, you have Gen X, whose technical knowledge was acquired in young adulthood. And in the other, you have Baby Boomers, many of whom don’t fully understand the way younger workers approach technology. When it comes to recruitment, retention, management, and leadership development, tactics vary depending on your corner. This can make it challenging to navigate the generational differences in tech employment.
Understanding Generational Differences in Tech Employment
Too often, we see people of all ages make fast assumptions about other generations. Nowhere is this more detrimental than in the workplace. Relying on generational stereotypes and biases quickly results in coworker conflict and negatively impacts performance, innovation, and collaboration.
When a Baby Boomer manager assumes that all Millennials are entitled, lazy and selfish, they miss out on opportunities to develop a generation of strong leaders. And when Millennials stand by their belief that older generations are set in their ways and are technologically illiterate, they bypass the potential to gain broader perspective and deeper insight.
The truth is, in striving to understand generational differences in tech unemployment, you come to realize those differences aren’t necessarily as apparent as the stereotypes may suggest. A recent IBM study reports that the career goals and values of Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Baby Boomers are actually fairly similar. To some extent, all generations want to make a positive impact through their work; they all value ethical leadership; and they’re all just as likely to leave their positions if the job isn’t fulfilling.
Stereotypes are extremely broad labels for a wide collection of individuals. And while there is a level of truth behind them, it’s less apparent than many preconceived notions may suggest. This is the most important thing to understand in order to overcome biases and foster a productive multigenerational workplace.
Reevaluating Your Recruitment Strategy
Though the stereotypes are largely false, what attracts different generations to a company differs just enough that it may be necessary to reevaluate your recruitment strategy when aiming to hiring Millennials. Having grown up in the midst of the tech boom, they interact with companies differently than their elder colleagues, particularly from a digital standpoint.
A Deloitte study shows that Millennials are attracted to companies whose values align with their own. This means organizations need to strongly define their employer brand (including mission, values and corporate culture) and strategize how that brand is communicated and represented online (on websites and social media) as well as throughout the recruitment process.
Furthermore, despite that fact that “entitlement” is a misconception about Millennials, it is true that they desire certain benefits earlier in their career than their elder counterparts experienced. This includes, according to a PWC report, opportunities for career development, flexible work arrangements, great benefits, and competitive pay. They are, however, willing to compromise wages for better perks and benefits.
Thus, organizations need to respond by creating a comprehensive talent acquisition strategy. It’s vital to understand the current workplace environment in terms of culture, team dynamic, management style, and opportunities for advancement. Aligning that information with an accurate understanding of the generation you want to recruit to your team is the key to branding your company in a way that attracts the best talent.
Adjusting Your Management Style
Similarly, your management style will likely need adjusting to adapt to a multigenerational workplace. The aforementioned PWC study reports that 65% of Millennials feel that many companies’ hierarchical management styles are outdated and don’t take into account the values of younger employees.
Despite that statistic, 76% of the PWC survey respondents do enjoy working beside senior management. Millennials place high value on development opportunities, and when companies create multigenerational teams, those opportunities are plentiful. Not only is there more potential to develop mentorship opportunities, there’s also a natural platform for knowledge transfer. Innovation in the workplace happens when two or more different perspectives come together to create something epic. When a multigenerational team embraces this notion, great things can happen.
But this realization doesn’t yet seem to be widespread enough, because the Deloitte survey shows that 63% of Millennials believe they’re not being developed for leadership. This is a generation that hugely values lifelong learning and professional development. They want to be “transformational leaders who challenge and inspire others,” but this is only achieved through mentorship, training, and strategic development. If a company can’t provide these, those Millennials are going to look elsewhere.
The Multigenerational Workplace
In the quest to land better IT talent, companies should develop a clear understanding of the generational differences in tech employment. It’s the only way to define their brand and foster a work environment that attracts and retains individuals from all generations. At the end of the day, Millennials hate feeling underutilized, Baby Boomers hate feeling undervalued, and Gen Xers don’t want to get stuck in the middle.
If you’re looking to augment your multigenerational workforce, we can help you out. Tell us more about your hiring goals, and we can get started today.
Jeff Dean is the managing director of MDI Group’s Dallas/Fort Worth office. If you are interested in learning more about how to attract the best IT talent in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, contact Jeff directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us 888-416-7949. MDI Group also has offices and specializes in recruiting IT talent in Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Greenville and Phoenix.