4 Tips for Managing a Multigenerational Workforce, From Boomers to Gen Z

The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) predicts that the labor force—which includes everyone who’s employed and unemployed—is going to get a lot older by 2030.

According to 2021 BLS data, the labor force will grow by 96.5% for people 75 and older. In comparison, the youngest labor force population will shrink (-7.5% for ages 16–24). Every other group will only grow slightly (5.4% for ages 25–54; 7.7% for ages 55–74).

Every organization needs to prepare for this new multigenerational workforce, balancing the rise of older workers while still supporting young and middle-aged workers. So how can your company effectively recruit and retain such a broad swath of employees?

In a recent BambooHR webinar, we examined generational differences in the workplace and discussed four effective ways to attract and engage a multigenerational workforce. Read on to discover expert insights that will help you create an excellent employee experience—regardless of age.

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What Is a Multigenerational Workforce?

A multigenerational workforce is made up of employees from different age groups.

Along with the aging population mentioned above, more people are also choosing to work well past retirement age, according to BLS labor force participation rates:

While these seem like small changes, employees are increasingly more likely to come from a wide range of age groups, with people right out of high school working alongside those past traditional retirement age.

Generation Age Ranges

As of 2023, workers could come from the following five generational cohorts:

» Learn More: Financial Anxieties, Layoff Fears: How US Workers Feel About Their Job Prospects (2023 Data)

4 Expert Tips for Recruiting and Retaining a Multigenerational Workforce

As you think of ways to implement Cassie and Wendy’s advice, keep in mind that generation age groups are general tools for understanding how people change over time, and not everyone in each generation will have the same attitudes.

As the Pew Research Center points out, “​​[S]ome events can affect people across generations, moving everyone in one direction or another. ... It’s wise to think of terms like Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer as general reference points instead of scientific facts.”

1. Tailor Your Recruiting to Attract a Diverse, Multigenerational Candidate Pool

Baby Boomers (1946–1964)

In general, Baby Boomers value hard work and dedication. They're attracted to employers with the same values. Additionally, companies with high-quality healthcare and retirement benefits are likely to attract more Baby Boomers.

Organizations can expect their Baby Boomer employees to stick around longer than previous generations—but this generation can still switch jobs or retire.

The Pew Research Center reports that 28.6 million Baby Boomers left the job market due to retirement at the end of 2020. Although retirement trends remained relatively stable throughout the pandemic, COVID-19 did influence some Baby Boomers to choose retirement. Among workers with poor health, 5.6% of workers retired early due to COVID-19.

Generation X (1965–1980)

As Baby Boomers retire and Millennials mature into leadership roles, Generation X is often overlooked. However, as Gen X continues to rise in the ranks, it’s important to develop their strengths as leaders.

Gen Xers bring a lot of drive and dedication to their work. A study of more than 850 Gen Xers found that 71% value doing meaningful work over a higher-paying salary. More than half (52%) say they'd prefer a role with exciting tasks over stable employment. The vast majority of Gen X employees (86%) value work-life balance and a sense of purpose at work.

These values directly contribute to the work ethic Gen Xers bring to the workplace. As you think of how to engage and retain Gen X employees and leaders, give them a clear path forward, so they can keep growing their career.

Millennials (1981–1996)

In 2017, Millennials surpassed Generation X and the Baby Boomers to become the largest generation in the current labor force, making up 35% of the workforce.

Despite being stereotyped as immature job-hoppers, Millennials stay just as long with their employers as Baby Boomers did when they were young workers in the 1980s. Among 18- to 34-year-old workers in the United States, 44% have been with their current employer for more than three years.

The oldest Millennials entered their 40s in the 2020s, so organizations need to plan for this sizable generation to continue maturing and playing an important part in shaping their workforce dynamics.

As with Gen X, make sure to focus on growth and development opportunities as well as a sense of purpose.

Generation Z (1997–Early 2000s)

According to the PEW Research Center, Generation Z are reaching key milestones later in life, compared to 40 years ago. These milestones include:

In 2021, 39% of 21-year-olds were working full time (down from the 64% in 1980). More alarmingly, only one-quarter of Gen Zers (25%) were financially independent from their parents.

Despite reaching major milestones later in life, Gen Z employees are highly engaged and value meaningful, exciting work. In our recent webinar, Payscale's Wendy Brown explains that members of Gen Z “are focused on learning with a purpose."

"They need to see how things tie back to the ultimate objective," Wendy says, "otherwise they’re not really interested. They tend to have a realistic, multicultural mindset in their work, and they are tech natives.”

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2. Identify and Develop Leadership Strengths

What are you doing in your business to support the strengths that each generation brings to the table? How can you encourage and make them a real asset in your organization, rather than leaving it up to each individual to figure it out?

BambooHR's Cassie Whitlock highlights some of the general leadership strengths employees in each generation may already have and that your organization can nurture:

Baby Boomers:

Generation X:


Generation Z:

Beyond generational traits, Cassie cautions organizations: Don’t just look at high performers. Choose ‌people who have the right talents or show potential to be leaders.

Keep in mind that leadership doesn’t always have to look like becoming a manager. For example, if someone isn’t interested in managing people, you may decide to grow them as experts in their areas of knowledge.

3. Use Coaching to Help All Employees Grow

Our experts recommend personalized coaching as the most effective way to help employees discover growth opportunities in your organization. This is also how you can help them spearhead their own development, no matter what generation they’re in.

A manager-coach can help by:

4. Set Personalized Stretch Goals

Finally, managers can personalize how they support and encourage a multigenerational workforce by working with each employee to set goals. No matter how new or experienced an employee might be, there’s always another goal to work toward.

Cassie suggests the following tips for setting stretch goals for your team:

As you set these goals with your employees, it’s important to remember how different generations might approach goal-setting and learning in general. You can use this knowledge to provide the right kind of support for your multigenerational team:

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