These days, some say it's a buyer's market when it comes to hiring. But unlike in prior challenging economic times, not only are there more people available for hire, they come from more generations than at any other time in recent history. There are five of them to be exact, at least according to this week's INDIE Business Podcast guests.
According to father-daughter team Larry and Meagan Johnson, co-authors of Generations, Inc.: From Boomers to Linksters–Managing the Friction Between Generations at Work (affiliate link), the five generations of employable people in the market today are: Linksters (born after 1995), Generation Y (born 1981 to 1995), Generation X (born 1965 to 1980), Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964), and Traditionals (born before 1945). Larry and Meagan joined me to talk about how small business owners can approach these groups, and how we can build positive working relationships among the generations. Here are some highlights:
- Hiring a new employee. Whichever generation you are hiring from, ask the prospective employee why they want to work. Do they just need money? Maybe they've been laid off and want a new job — any job? Perhaps they are just bored. Probe the person's motivation so you can hire someone who really wants to contribute and is not just in it for the money or a temporary fix of some kind.
- Training boomers on technology. While it's a mistake to assume, as many do, that Baby Boomers are not interested in new technologies, many of them have to be trained. If you're training them to do something new, try your best to train them one-on-one instead of in a group setting or via phone. More mature learners tend to learn faster and more thoroughly this way.For the first time in history, say my guests, more mature generations are not as cognizant of the technological realities of the time as younger generations. More often than not in any work situation, the older generation needs to be mentored by the younger one in this regard.
- Hiring independent contractors. Larry and Meagan say that, if you want to go the independent contractor route, you're better off hiring a Generation X'er (born between 1965 and 1980). This group is generally more interested in working on a contract basis, in part because they are often starting businesses of their own. They also may tend to have more of an independent spirit that makes them open to more flexibility and “doing their own thing.”Having said those things, my guest cautioned not to rely too heavily on generalities and stereotypes. After all, in this economy, many more Baby Boomers (especially younger ones) than ever are interested in working, learning new things, and sharpening their skills because they may be in the work force longer than they had anticipated. Remember that a Baby Boomer, however, being a bit older, is likely to have higher salary requirements.
Interestingly, Generation Y'ers are looking more for security and benefits packages, and they are more likely than ever before to be living with their parents, and are therefore not the best candidates for an independent contractor relationship. Generation Y'ers seem to be enjoying jobs where they can feel secure and among friends as they grow into their independence in this trying economy.
For more hiring tips, enjoy my interview with human resources expert Garrett Miller at this link.
About Larry and Meagan Johnson
Larry and Meagan are partners in The Johnson Training Group, which helps organizations improve productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction and employee morale through innovative management practices. They are both highly popular speakers for corporate meetings, government conferences and association meetings.
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Question: How are you handling people from different generations in your business?