Boomers to Gen X, Y, Z accelerating performance

The million-dollar answer to optimising performance is sitting within four generations; Boomers, X, Y and Z.  Rising costs of retirement and advances in medical science has extended the average age of retirement, resulting in a multigenerational workforce that bring their own experiences, skills and strengths to the corporate table.  It’s time for organisations to capitalise on this before generations leave the workforce and employers lose invaluable institutional knowledge that could be key to a thriving and profitable business. 

According to research conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership; family, love and integrity are values that unify the four generations.  Whilst it’s important to leverage similarities in generations to boost employee engagement, it’s suggested employers also need to build the gaps between differences to manage potential communication challenges, increase employee performance and advance employee resilience so that workers can cope with the accelerated pace of change that’s happening within organisations.

Six Seconds’ State of the Heart Report suggests there is a large gap on quality of health between those over and under 40 years old.  Changing cultural trends, family breakdowns, education pressures and dietary changes are contributing to 20-30% of younger people suffering from mental health disorders.  The generation’s ability to manage through emotions (EQ) is declining globally by 1% each year and this will only continue to decline.  As a result, absenteeism rates will increase, work insurance costs for stress related illnesses will get higher and legal claims will be more frequent, costing Australian business $6.5 billion a year according to ABS.

There is another contrast between Boomers and Generation X, Y and Z. Rapid growth in technology advancements and the way communication is delivered has put increasing pressure on Baby Boomers to compete with their younger counterparts in a technology 2.0 environment, having employers potentially question their effectiveness and under utilise the institutional knowledge and experience they possess.  As technology continues to advance, Generation Y will have the same challenges as Baby Boomers do today when Generation Z become our leaders of the future, and so on with each new generation.  

In addition, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z are all in a different stage of their lives and careers.  Organisations are faced with the challenges of managing diverse perspectives, motivations and attitudes that can imbalance the dynamics of an organisations culture.  These generational disparities are shaping the way employers recruit, train, communicate and incentivise their employees. Organisations will also need to develop new-sophisticated methods to strengthen employee engagement, improve quality of employee health and increase overall performance.  

Research suggests there is a direct correlation between Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and performance. Giving employees the tools to best leverage their strengths could result in a 36% increase in performance, according to the Corporate Leadership Council.  Integrating emotional capabilities into an organisation will initiate a culture of open communication between the four generations and create an environment where workers feel open to effectively share their skills, experience and knowledge with one another.  

Additionally, organisations will have a structure where values held by each generation are respected and will therefore influence one another’s growth and development paths.  As employee’s strengths are continually utilised, ones lesser strengths can be further developed through learning from the other generations to optimise their ability to manage stress, handle conflict, problem solve as well as influence and collaborate with others. 

As an example, with the accelerated pace of change happening within organisations, young managers must become good leaders and quickly.  With email, social media and phone technology distancing us from in-person interaction and this being the norm for how young generations communicate, young managers can fall at the hurdle when needing to have difficult or confronting conversations with their colleagues and subordinates.  Baby Boomers on the other hand are extremely good at influencing those around them with their high optimism and empathetic nature.  

By young managers developing these competencies from the Baby Boomer generation, they will have the skills to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with their colleagues, earning trust and allowing their leadership to grow organically.  As this extends out to their family and friends, they will also develop a more balanced social, mental and physical wellbeing that will increase their overall resilience, helping them to manage through the growing pressures at work and home.  

By implementing strategies to capitalise on a multi generational workforce, organisations will benefit from a more engaged workplace, a more rapid transition of knowledge from one generation to the next, and capitalise on the unique set of skills and knowledge each generation has. This will all lead to higher and more sustainable performance. 


Author: Hannah Coombes, Emotous   |   Published: Friday 2nd September 2022