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Getting Started

The five-generation workforce

For the first time since the Industrial Revolution, five generations of employees now work side by side

The five-generation workforce

Five generations working together brings new opportunities and new threats. The future performance of your business will depend on your ability to create a culture of collaboration, inclusion and understanding.

We are working longer than ever before. Improved living standards, deflating pension pots and legal protection against age discrimination have nudged the retirement age up. With people now working into their 70s and beyond, the age profile of your organisation has stretched. You must now manage five generations of employees, each with different values and motivations. 

Who are the five generations?

Up to 23 - Gen Z

24 to 37 - Millennials

38 to 53 - Gen X

54 to 72 - Baby boomers

73 and over - Traditionalists

The arrival of the five-generation workforce will bring new opportunities. When managed well, it will give your organisation a competitive edge. Different generations often bring different viewpoints. This diversity of ideas, experience and skillsets can broaden your knowledge base, helping you better serve your customers and ultimately unlock growth.

Yet the five-generation workforce also has the potential to bring new challenges. RSM’s research with YouGov, dated June 2018, revealed that different generations can have a tough time understanding each other. It shows that older generations find their peers easier to manage than younger generations, and vice versa.

With different generations often having different values and motivations, it can quickly lead to new misunderstandings and workplace tensions. This has become a concern for many. RSM’s research with YouGov shows a sizeable proportion of organisations are worried that the five-generation workforce will make it more challenging to manage employees.

Five generations – challenge or opportunity?

41% say all five working together increases the risk of conflict

54% think it’s more challenging to manage employees

66 % believe it enhances our skillset/knowledge base

71% brings contrasting views to our organisation

It’s important to recognise that having multiple generations under one roof doesn’t have to create friction or new management headaches. But whether it brings new benefits or threats will depend on your willingness to change your approach to people management. The way you engage, develop and mobilise your workforce must now adapt. 

Seize this opportunity to do things differently. Your future success will depend on your ability to create a culture where everyone feels heard, valued and understood. 


​The opinions expressed by third parties are their own are not necessarily shared by St. James’s Place Wealth Management. This article originally appeared on the RSM ideas and insights website