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How to ensure your employer brand spans the generations

By Yvonne Smyth, Head of Diversity, Hays

By the end of this decade there will be five generations working side-by-side in many of our nation’s workplaces as later retirement ages and longer life expectancy start to make their presence felt in the world of work.

As with all aspects of diversity, an age-diverse workforce presents organisations with the opportunity to better understand customer markets, draw upon different perspectives and in so doing, improve business performance and encourage innovation. Here I will go through some of the ways a more age diverse recruiting commitment can be captured within your hiring strategy.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to employer branding

Different generations view employer loyalty in many different ways. Your traditionalists and baby-boomers are generally more embedded within the organisations they work in. Generations X, Y and Z are less inclined to share this view and often have no concerns in regularly moving between employers.

With this in mind, you need to ensure your business is on the front-foot and agile in how you promote yourself as a destination of choice. Various reports, including our recent What Workers Want study, shows that the majority of employees within each of these generations have differing priorities.Take the time to understand what aspects of your workplace and work environment will appeal to different age demographics. This awareness will inform how you tailor your employer branding strategy.

Gen X needs to see that you’re forward-thinking

By Generation X, we mean employees born roughly between 1965 and 1976. Some of the world’s most prominent entrepreneurs and technological innovators are part of this generation, including Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos and Larry Page, one of the founders of Google. Generation X witnessed first-hand the impact of digital innovation as they entered the world of work, and often tend to appreciate the digital innovations which can form part of company culture.

Appealing to this demographic requires you to highlight that your organisational culture is an “intraprenerial” one. What I mean by this, is essentially that you encourage idea sharing and innovation from all areas of the business.

You also need to emphasise that your business can stay ahead of digital transformations, and that you embrace (rather than fear) disruption within your industry. If you can demonstrate how your company has evolved to adapt to a changing landscape; from your product offering and customer service strategy, to your internal operations.

Millennials want career progression

Broadly speaking, this is the generation who have seen newly-created career opportunities brought to them by technological advancement. These things combine to make a particularly tenacious, ambitious and adventurous group of workers.

A report by PWC states how this ambition is conveyed in the way millennials demand constructive feedback and development from their employer, expecting to see progression within their roles and reward for their effort. Millennials are less likely to be bound by borders too, with 71 per cent of the respondents in the report saying they plan to work overseas at some point during their careers. Our What Workers Want report also found that this generation find individual performance-related bonuses motivating, more so than Baby Boomers and Generation X Essentially millennials prioritise career progression, reward, and development when considering an employer. Thus, if you want to appeal to this segment, you will need to adjust your talent attraction strategy to emphasise these personalised aspects accordingly. Some great examples of this are things like communicating internal career success stories, celebrating the contribution made to overall business objectives by certain employees and publishing international mobility case studies.

Generation Z can be won over with your reputation and purpose

This is the generation who grew up on social media and are thought to spend up to 10 hours a day online pursuing a number of activities, from socialising to job searching. There is evidence to suggest that employer brand reputation is more important to this generation of workers than any other. Parental influence is a significant influencing factor, and this age group are highly likely to source family opinions on a potential employer. If organisations want to attract Generation Z, it’ll be necessary to invest in developing a strong online employer brand, showcasing exactly why you’re a leading players in your sector or field. Actions such as publishing information which positively reflect and amplify your industry recognition on social media, for example, will go a long way with this group. Of course, having the least tenure of the three, we have the less by way of data and measurement of the Gen Z generation. So the final point to make here is make sure that you invest time in active listening and watch out for trends within this group in your workforce, as their thoughts will be invaluable.

If you’re working on tailoring your talent attraction strategy to attract more diverse talent profiles, you may also be interested in my previous post on narrowing the gender divide.

For more information or to discuss your recruitment needs in this field, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Yvonne is Head of Diversity at Hays, working with our clients to ensure their recruitment strategies are aligned with the latest equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) policies and initiatives. She is responsible for creating and implementing diverse recruitment strategies that effectively support the representation of more diverse staff profiles within their business.

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