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Issue 45: Q3 2023 - From Baby Boomers to Gen Z Employees—What Engages and Motivates Them Differently?

From Baby Boomers to Gen Z Employees—What Engages and Motivates Them Differently?

Issue 45: Q3 2023 / September 29, 2023
Whitney Ng
Brand Designer

In issue 45 of Conversations@Tangible, we’re looking at how different generations view workplace culture and how these differences may shape views on such contentious issues such as working from home!

Effective internal branding should take into consideration how each generation thrives best in the workplace. We should caveat all this by saying that workplace culture is often shaped by its industry. We are acutely aware that the Shipping industry has a very different working environment compared to the Fashion industry. Some industries require periods of reflection or craftsmanship (where working from home is perfect) while other sectors require employees to have on-site, hands-on skills. When creating internal branding strategies, it’s worthwhile considering the demographic of your workforce, and typically how that demographic prefers to interact.

Looking at the difference in Generations:

Exploring generational perspectives reveal a fascinating interplay of values and expectations among different generations in the workplace. Let’s delve into how each generation is defined and explore their distinct perspectives From Baby Boomers, the eldest generation, to the newest entrants, Gen Z, understanding these definitions provides valuable insights into the dynamics of the workplace.

Baby Boomers (Born mid-1940s to early 1960s):

Born in the post-World War II era, Baby Boomers were named after the significant increase in birth rates during this period. They grew up during a time of economic prosperity and witnessed major cultural and social shifts, including the civil rights movement and the sexual revolution. Baby Boomers prefer to communicate in person or through traditional channels such as phone calls and printed letters. They want Work Life Consistency where they value loyalty and reliability in both their life and the companies they work for. They see hard work and dedication as the way to gain respect & recognition and the drive to continue their legacy.

Gen X (Born early 1960s to early 1980s):

Generation X, which emerged during a period of social change and technological advancements, is often referred as the ‘independent generation’ because many grew up with both parents working, fostering a strong sense of independence. Having experienced the traditional workday they prefer to communicate in person using email and phone calls. They are drawn to companies that value stability and personal development. Generation X wants work-life integration, actively seeking ways to harmonise their professional and personal lives. They want to work for companies that are committed to creating an action-driven workplace.

Millennials (Born early 1980s to mid-1990s):

Millennials, also known as Gen Y, came of age during the rapid rise of the internet, which shaped their tech-savvy, collaborative nature. They prefer to communicate via email, video conferencing, instant messaging, and collaborative apps. Millennials prioritise work-life balance and personal development in multiple areas of life. They want to work for ethical companies that provide opportunities for personal development. They seek belonging & support through collaboration with others in the workplace.

Gen Z (Born mid-1990s to early 2010s):

This is the first generation to grow up entirely in the digital age. They witnessed the rise of social media and are characterised by their strong sense of social responsibility. They are also a very socially conscious generation, appreciating communication channels that allow them to connect with others and share their ideas globally. Gen Z seeks work-life harmony, integrating personal life purpose into their careers. They value open and honest communication and align with company values that emphasise authenticity and social responsibility in their actions and values.

In navigating generational dynamics within the workplace, it is worth considering how each generation is defined and recognise the distinct well-being needs and preferences of different generations. For a quick overview, we present a summarised table for swift comprehension of the differences among generations:

 

Generational Approach Gen Z Millennials (Gen Y) Gen X Baby Boomers
Well-Being Needs Work-Life Harmony Work-Life Balance Work-Life Integration Work-Life Consistency
Driven By Personal Life Purpose Driven Development Driven In Multiple Areas Autonomy & Action Driven Respect
Wants To Create Impact, Social Approval Personal Life Development, Mental Health Support Work & Life Stability Work Recognition
Shared Identity Impact Belonging Individuality Legacy
Communication Channels Social Media Platforms, Video Conferencing, Instant Messaging Email, Video Conferencing, Instant Messaging, Collaboration Apps In-Person Meetings, Email, Phone Calls In-Person Meetings, Phone Calls, Printed Letters
Company Values Values Alignment With Their Own, Authenticity, Social Responsibility Values Company’s World-Bettering Direction, Sustainability Values Stability,  Personal Development Values Employees To Align With Company’s Values,  Loyalty

 

Understanding the nuances between generations is essential for creating a workplace that meets the diverse needs and expectations of employees. As we explore the different generational attitudes toward workplace culture and branding, it becomes clear that a one-size-fits-all approach is no longer effective. (Read previous Conversations @Tangible Issue 43: Internal Branding – More than just the Office Pantry)

Should we label generations at all?

Going beyond the generational stereotypes:

While Tangible wouldn’t want to endorse perpetuating stereotypes, we have to start somewhere. Tangible’s Market Research uses the lenses of demographics and psychographics to understand perceptions and preference drivers of your brand. Through modeling and testing both visual and verbal stimuli, we identify solutions that are most appealing to the different stakeholder groups.

How Tangible Approach Internal Branding:

At Tangible, we understand that a brand’s impact extends both internally and externally, reaching diverse audiences and demographics.

This is why we adopt a comprehensive cross-company approach, ensuring effective communication and engagement on all fronts. We have developed  frameworks and a structured process for contextualising and curating questionnaires within our research methodology.

We have a Digital Strategy that helps you define your objectives and roadmaps to reach your target audience with tailored messaging.

Based on your communication objectives and key messages for each target audience, Tangible will develop a plethora of activation ideas for pre-launch, launch, and post-launch activities to bring to our Communication Ideation Workshop™ to help you effectively navigate generational dynamics in the workplace.

Let’s Talk Internal Branding

Citations:

1. Black, E. (2023). Retrieved from https://www.afr.com/work-and-careers/workplace/gen-z-aren-t-lazy-they-just-don-t-want-to-live-to-work-20230829-p5e09m

2. Ernst & Young Singapore. Retrieved from https://www.ey.com/en_us/consulting/is-gen-z-the-spark-we-need-to-see-the-light-report/gen-z-finding-meaning
3. Helyer, R., & Lee, D. (2012). The twenty‐first-century multiple-generation workforce. Education + Training, 54(7), 565–578. doi:10.1108/00400911211265611
4. Jorgensen, B. (2003). Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y: Policy Implications for Defence Forces in the Modern Era. Foresight, 5(4), 41-49.
5. Lancaster LC, Stillman D. When Generations Collide. New York: HarperCollins; 2002.
6. O’Bannon G. (2001). Managing our future: the generation X factor. Public Personnel Management, 30, 95–109.
7. Reilly, P. (2012). Understanding and teaching Generation Y. English Teaching Forum, 1, 2–10.
8. Shoichet, C. E. (2023). Busting this big myth about baby boomers reveals something about gen Z, too. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2023/07/08/us/baby-boomers-gen-z-cec/index.html
9. Sirias, D., Karp, H., & Brotherton, T. (2007). Comparing the Levels of Individualism/Collectivism between Baby Boomers and Generation X: Implications for Teamwork. Management Research News, 30(10), 749-761.
10. Erin, E. (2023). Retrieved from https://www.betterup.com/blog/generations-in-the-workplace

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