Hiring The Future: Understanding Generational Differences

What generation are you considered a part of? Right now there are four different academically-recognized generations in the workforce. These are Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and what’s being called “Generation Z” for the moment. You can see the general separations by birth date below.

Generations by Birth Year

If you’re involved in hiring for a cleaning staff, you’ll likely be called on to hire someone from a different generation than yourself. Maybe you’re a Baby Boomer interviewing a Millennial, a Gen Xer interviewing a Baby Boomer, or a Millennial interviewing someone just entering the workforce from Generation Z.

Much has been written about the different values or approaches to work that different generations have. The secret to being an effective hiring manager in these situations is to make sure you understand how these broad generalizations can be helpful to you, but also recognize their limitations.

Recognizing Differences in Motivators

One of the biggest challenges in hiring a good cleaning staff and keeping them motivated is understanding that not everyone is focused on the same things when it comes to a job. This can be very individual, but noticing patterns within generational subgroups can help guide you. For instance, A recent poll of Millennials revealed that finding a job they enjoy, and that contributes to society, is high on their list of priorities when job searching. For baby boomer generations, making money and learning new skills was the top priority.

In this example, Millennials want to be paid fairly, but also value their job environment and interactions with their co-workers. Baby Boomers might be more interested in advancement opportunities. Discussing these aspects of the job during interviewing can be a great way of making sure a potential candidate is a good fit. Are these things important to them?  Can the job provide them? Encourage an honest exchange of ideas here.

Don’t Make Assumptions

Here’s the dark side of talking about generational differences, though. Like any group, individuals within it can have a variety of work ethics and values. Although the points raised about generational differences are useful to consider, they won’t always apply. The worst thing you can do is assume that everyone from a specific generation would not be a good fit for your team because they might have a different approach to the work. You might be talking yourself out of a great worker. Besides, bringing in new people with fresh ideas and approaches is one of the very best things about the hiring process. It’s not only a chance to grow or develop your staff, but it’s also an opportunity to get a fresh perspective on the way you do things. 


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1. White, G.B. (2015). Millennials in Search of A Different Kind of Career. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/06/millennials-job-search-career-boomers/395663/

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