What Does Each Generation Want from Work?

People from different generations don’t expect work to give them the same things. Their expectations are slightly different in their priorities — money, fame, health benefits, wellbeing policies, work-life balance, etc.  

The problem is that as companies try to make everyone equal, management becomes a zero-sum game. So over time, you can find many people who are not happy with their jobs. 

To truly understand how people from different generations have varying expectations from their organizations, we need to understand that each generation has its own unique set of values, attitudes and behaviors.  

As a recruiter, you’re probably aware of the generational differences you encounter at work, but do you really understand what each generation wants from work?  

This blog will give you a good idea of the expectations of every generation, starting from the baby boomers. 


The Experienced – Baby Boomers (1946-64)  

Baby Boomers tend to be more traditional than their younger counterparts and typically want to be recognized for their hard work and dedication. The majority of Baby Boomers worked towards a promotion or a raise to progress in their careers. As such, they tend to be motivated by job security and stability. They also prioritize career progression and expect to be paid what they feel is worth. They also expect good health benefits from their employers. 

While these are expectations that organizations can be met, one of the challenges that many baby boomers face in their professional world is ageism. 64% of workers aged 45–74 have witnessed or experienced age discrimination in the workplace. So Baby Boomers expect organizations to include a formal age inclusion policy and take steps against discrimination because of age. 

Most often, Baby Boomers are more suited as mentors to help and guide the people from other generations.  


The Early Adapters – Generation X (1965-80) 

Gen X tends to be more independent, self-reliant and individualistic than the generations before them. Gen X wants personal fulfillment, stability, and security from work. 

Generation X has values that slightly differ from Baby Boomers, as Generation X is more concerned about work-life balance. They typically do not want to be tied down to one company for an entire career but instead move jobs regularly to find a better work-life balance or increased salary. They expect the world to keep changing, so they’re ready to adapt. They want a job that offers variety, but not so much variety that it makes them feel insecure. 

Gen Xers are also very family-oriented. This generation expects a flexible work environment to customize their work experience to suit their lifestyles. And they prefer employers that care about their well-being and provide financial stability.  


The Emerging Gen – The Millennials (1981-2000)  

Millennials are constantly striving to be better at what they do — learning new things and applying them to their field of work. 

This is a generation that wants a job that allows them to make an impact, where their efforts will directly result in positive change. This is why many millennials choose to get involved with nonprofit organizations or volunteer in some capacity. 

This generation cares more about personal satisfaction and work-life balance than they do about the financial rewards — but they are often unsatisfied with their organizations’ efforts in doing the same. 

Millennials want opportunities for development, both professional and personal, in order to advance their careers. 52% said that career progression was the top reason for staying with their current employers, while 44% attribute competitive salaries to be the prime reason. They expect on-the-job training and mentoring from experienced managers and leaders. 

Companies that help employees find a better work-life balance and give them opportunities to grow in their careers will likely attract top talent from this generation. 


The Young and New – Gen Z (2001-20) 

 These digital natives are expecting to have an impact on the world and are looking for companies that do the same — they believe their values should be reflected in their place of employment. 

According to Deloitte, this is a generation that values diversity and inclusion in the workplace. They are also aware of gender inequality in business and believe that more should be done to advance women’s careers at work. They prioritize diversity across all forms — race, gender, identity and orientation. And these factors are also critical when considering joining a new employer. 

Gen Z also expects to be able to work remotely and have flexible working hours. They’re also keen on knowing how they can progress through a company, so a good career progression plan is necessary for them to consider joining an organization. Further, Gen Z members prefer to work for employers who can guarantee a stable job while allowing them to pursue their entrepreneurial work. 


Address the Each Gen’s Expectations During Talent Acquisition 

The next time you’re creating a job description or reaching out to new talent, highlight your formal policies that address and answer each generation’s expectations and concerns. 

For example, if you’re looking to fill a role in the top management with someone who’s a Baby Boomer generation or Gen Xer, then make sure to create a job description that talks about financial stability and work-life balance with a subtle mention of diversity and inclusion policies.  

You can use then Loop to send out automated personalized messages — highlighting the expectations — for your new job openings based on the candidate preferences and role.  

Want to see Loop in action? Request a free demo today. 

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