Millennials and Gen Z now make up almost half of the world’s population. As a result, there can be up to five generations of employees in the workplace, thus employers must shift their mindset to one which welcomes multigenerational talent and understands the nuances of attracting each one.

The term itself, ‘generation’, typically refers to a time period of between 20 to 30 years, within which there’s an incomprehensible number of individuals with their own unique needs, goals and differing attitudes. However, there are a number of defining characteristics of each generation, as well as some similarities between those which sit adjacent.

At the time of writing, Millennials are considered to be between 25 and 40 years of age, with Gen Z falling into the younger age bracket below the age of 24. As these employees – who, naturally, are often in junior positions – climb into middle management or more senior roles, it’s down to business leaders to help bridge the widening generational divide and meet the needs of future generations who will ultimately lead our businesses.

Be flexible to be futureproof

One significant point of contention between generations is the desire to work flexibly, and COVID-19 has massively accelerated the transition to a hybrid working world. According to Deloitte, twice as many under-35s want permanent flexible working post-pandemic, compared to over-55s.

For Millennials and Gen Z, the option to break the nine-to-five mould and work remotely won’t just be a luxury, it will be an expectation. Half of Millennials have already stated that flexibility is ‘very important’ in choosing their next job. Organisations must consider how drastically their talent pool will narrow if they refuse to offer some form of flexible working – whether that be every day, or a select few days per week or month.

Gen Z, on the other hand, are highly flexible in other ways. 83 per cent of graduates in the UK are willing to relocate for work, and as digital natives, they’re quick to contend with new technologies. This is a generation that has quickly established itself as one that is highly ambitious, driven and keen to progress. But, crucially, they haven’t yet grown fully accustomed to the concept of a ‘traditional’ eight-hour working day, and on the whole are keen to be measured on their performance, not the time they spend sitting at their desk.

Vocalise your vision and values

A common misconception is that younger generations can be lured into a company by add-on employee benefits such as pool tables in breakout areas or free drinks on Fridays. In reality, it’s the opposite. Millennials, in particular, seek meaning in their work; not just in their day-to-day tasks, but in their organisation’s overarching vision and core values too.

Employer branding is crucial, and is often a candidate’s first impression of a company – particularly on social media – but following through on any promises even more so. If, for example, you state that you are an advocate for providing each individual with an equal opportunity for career progression, you must ensure you are implementing tailored mentoring and sponsorship programs and actively removing barriers faced by individual employees.

Targeted development programmes for diverse talent, such as INvolve’s Emerging Leaders Programme, equip future leaders with the tools to succeed and become effective leaders within businesses and are vital to support the long-term career development of diverse talent. Businesses must walk the talk, as Millennials are goal-oriented, preferring to receive clear direction from their managers, with Gen Z veering towards entrepreneurship and typically more eager to upskill.

Salaries and progression opportunities aside, a sense of belonging and purpose is high on the agenda for younger generations. It’s not so much about the reward for doing a job well, but the idea of doing a rewarding job. More than half of Millennials are attracted to their employers because of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) position, according to PwC.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that businesses who are genuinely inclusive garner more attention from a generation that is notably more culturally aware than predecessors, strive for belonging and are seeking fulfilment from their careers.

Build a better, more inclusive future

Studies have shown that Millennials are the generation who feel most comfortable talking about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, with 47 per cent claiming that it will be important in their next job search.

However, although Millennials highly value diverse, inclusive employers, the same research shows that they are not necessarily more likely to end up working in such cultures, compared to other generations – and that means organisations have some serious work to do.

A generation that has grown up with social justice movements taking centre stage, the rise of intersectional feminism and the ability to gather information at the click of a button, it’s no surprise that inclusion and equality is important to Gen Z. In fact, 25 per cent of Gen Z candidates would decline the job offer if the recruiter failed to use their preferred pronouns and as the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in history, many minority candidates feel their race isn’t well represented in companies’ marketing materials. Younger candidates need to feel as though their voice is, and will continue to be heard, by their current and prospective employers, if they are to remain happy and engaged.

Matching the varying expectations of workers across the five generations now in employment is essential for successful recruitment and retention. Audeliss can support your business by diversifying senior leadership teams so that they aren’t just representative, but actively shape businesses that are fit for future generations. With INvolve, we implement inclusion and advisory solutions across businesses to support companies on their inclusion journey. Companies must adapt to ensure they maintain a broad talent pool that serves the needs of their existing and future customers – and catering to the unique needs of each generation is key.