Why Managing Generational Differences Is Important for Business

Managing Generational Differences should be viewed from the perspective as an important business need or value to sustain and grow your business or organization.

The most important use for a sophisticated approach in dealing with the diverse needs of the different generations is in the area of increasing job retention rates or in other words lowering the significant costs of replacing the valuable resource of trained employees.

Understanding how to attract, motivate and retain the different generations in the work place is an important factor to create sustainable increases in performance and profit in a market that has a dearth of highly qualified workers.

Because there are more jobs than there are qualified workers, employees are now in a position to demand more from companies and pick and choose the companies that better meet their needs. The laws of supply and demand are not the only factor influencing this change. The success of the American Dream, the shift to an information based economy, changes in child rearing practices, and the long term outcomes of the changes in consciousness that started in the 60s has produced a workforce that believes they deserve far more from a job than just money.

Money is not the highest motivator for most workers.

Organizations will be far more successful in cultivating a highly motivated and stable workforce if they recognize that they need to use non-monetary benefits and rewards that create internally driven inspiration. There are also certain factors that can be huge de-motivators for people causing them to leave.

Non-Monetary Motivators by Generation

Understanding the specific values, needs and issues of each generation, allows employers to tailor non-monetary incentives so that they will be most effective as well as reduce de-motivators. Here are a few examples:

  • Offering the newest technology is not particularly motivating to Baby Boomers, but is very appealing to Millennials or Gen Y
  • Creating a program that allows workers to travel to other cities and be employed by the local branch of a business would be highly desirable to younger employees and not be very interesting to middle age workers.
  • Creating a program that allows for part time work focusing on specific problems that require information gathering as well as analytical and strategic thinking would be an excellent way to retain the talent of veterans or older boomers and gather information and solve problems that often do not get addressed.
  • Supervisory strategies that include closer supervision and feedback tend to be appealing to Millenials, but tend to be de-motivators for Gen X.

The bottom line is that organizations that want to maximize their human resources need to:

  • Avoid the temptation to create a one-size-fits-all strategy for a vision of a “homogenized good worker”
  • Create customized programs that meet the needs of different aspects of the talent pool (often based on generational differences) never losing site of the end result of meeting important business needs – thereby creating win–win scenarios. It is of interest to note that programs such as telecommuting often create employees who actually work more hours toward solving business needs.
  • Gather information from their own workforce (sorted by generation) to gain a better understanding of the economic and social trends that impact their business.


Benefits of Increasing Job Retention Rates
- an example-

The standard cost of replacing a worker 150%
of his/her salary.

A company with 500 employees, a job loss rate of 20% and an average salary of $40,000 a year must pay approximately $600,000 a year to retrain the workers it loses.

Reducing the job loss rate by only 3% represents a savings of $90,000 a year.

Current Generations
in the workforce
Age 65-80 50 million

Baby Boomers
Age 47-64 79 million

Gen X
Age 30-46 51 million
Age 11-30 78 million