The Multi-Generational Workforce

May 10, 2019

The Multi-Generational Workforce

The aging population in the UK coupled with the economic downturn in 2008 means that people are now postponing retirement and staying in work longer than their predecessors. As a result, for the first time ever, the workforce in the UK consists of five different generations of workers. This certainly presents an interesting dynamic from a HR and recruitment perspective. Historically a business would consist of 2, potentially 3, generations working alongside each other simultaneously however the influx of the 5th generation, or Generation Z as it is commonly referred to, has coincided with the extension of the Traditionalist generation remaining in the workforce resulting in a larger generational span.  

Perhaps a good place to start when considering this is an introduction of the different generations and their predominant characteristics. The theory dictates that each group has its own distinct values and traits based upon the environment and experiences they have been exposed to.

This is clearly demonstrated by our infographic below.

The concept certainly poses some interesting recruitment-based questions in terms of building upon existing teams that we regularly encounter as part of the recruitment process. We tackle some of the most commonly posed questions below.

Is a particular generation likely to offer more in terms of specific skillsets?

It is important to remember that whilst the generations do carry with them stereotypical characteristics that individuals within these groups can vary tremendously and it is inaccurate (not to mention discriminatory) to brand them all with the same brush simply based upon the year in which they were born. That being said it is only natural candidates that are within the generation Z pool will be more technically savvy than their baby boomer counterparts. However, from a recruitment perspective, it is important to assess each candidate on their individual merits and their fit to your particular organisation.

As an employer who should I recruit?

It is important before embarking upon a recruitment drive to study your employees – build a picture of your existing team and recruit to enhance it – the different personalities, skill sets, attributes, strengths, and weaknesses – this will help you to establish gaps in the team that you can look to fill when recruiting. Upon examination, you may discover that your SEO team is actually lacking in strategic leadership ability rather than technical competency in which case your recruitment strategy will be impacted and a graduate may not necessarily be best the fit for your team. It can be tempting to hire clones of your existing workforce as they are familiar and you know that they deliver results however be wary of this. As the saying goes if you always do the same thing you will always get the same results. Don’t be afraid to recruit outside your comfort zone.

Should I change my company culture to attract a certain type of candidate?

Be authentic to your brand and corporate culture. Don’t attempt to appear cutting edge in a job description to try and attract tech-savvy employees if your company is very traditional – you will simply end up with a bad team fit and back to square one a few months down the line when expectations are not met. That being said, if you are very traditionalist, fresh thinking and a new approach may be just what your business needs to help to move it forwards. Be clear in your objectives for the role – a good recruitment consultant will help you to ascertain these.

How can I hire a diverse workforce that can work together when the employment pool spans 5 generations?

As with any team, environment communication is key to effective team integration and management. The goal is to help your team move beyond the labels of their generational stereotype and ensure that they are valued for the individual strengths that they bring to the table whilst introducing new team members, in order to help you reach the common goal of your underlying business objectives. At Chrysalis Recruitment Solutions we are committed to sourcing the best possible fits in terms of roles and candidates to ensure that we create long lasting fruitful relationships for all involved. We do this by immersing ourselves in our client’s business to ensure that we really understand the dynamics of the existing team that we are looking to enhance. Only when we achieve this can we begin a targeted candidate attraction and selection process.

Are there any issues that I should be aware of?

Along with the multi-generational trend we have also witnessed the evolution of the traditional managerial hierarchy – it is now extremely common for younger people to manage someone older which can lead to tensions and insecurities. Cross-generational leadership is an area that must be considered and managed from a HR perspective. Our HR partners, Ashton People Solutions, have a wealth of experience in this field and will be happy to offer advice and support.


If you would like help in establishing and sourcing the best candidates to grow your sales and marketing teams get in touch with us – we are highly skilled in sourcing and candidate assessment to ensure the best fit for our client’s teams.

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