Millennials, Boomers, and The Great Resignation

The “great resignation” is a phrase that describes the recent trend of people leaving their jobs or simply refusing to return to them after being furloughed. 

The result of this is millions of positions are left unfilled. In some cases, businesses have had to adjust their hours or reduce services. The great resignation has even caused some companies to shut down entirely.

Who is Causing the Great Resignation?

Although it can be unproductive to make every issue a matter of Boomers vs. Millennials, the great resignation does showcase a generational divide. 

Overall, it is Millennials and Gen-Z workers who are leaving or planning to leave their positions. Meanwhile, Boomers and Gen-X are staying put, for the most part.

It’s clear that younger generations are driving the great resignation, but what drives them to make changes? Similarly, why are Boomers choosing to stay where they are or even returning to the workforce? Most importantly, how can employers use this understanding to help with their recruiting and hiring challenges?

Boomers and Gen-X: Why are They Staying?

Older workers generally stick with their current employers, and fewer indicate a desire to change jobs soon. There are many reasons for this.

Overall, Boomers and members of Gen-X were making more money and were more likely to be in a position of seniority before the pandemic. For many of them, retirement is very close, if not imminent. There’s also the matter of homeownership and other long-term financial entanglements, which are much more common for workers over 40. 

These factors make it less likely for workers in these groups to seek new work in search of higher salaries or job growth. 

Further, many are motivated to stick with what they perceive to be secure jobs that offer financial stability. This inclination is especially true for workers who are still attempting to catch up from losses incurred during the 2008 recession and those who lost income because of pandemic-driven health concerns. 

Finally, workers in these two demographic groups have worked for decades in traditional work environments. Boomers, in particular, were significantly less likely to take advantage of opportunities to work remotely before the pandemic and to be unhappy with these arrangements during the pandemic. 

For them, being asked to return to the office full-time is certainly not a deal-breaker.

Millennials and Gen-Z: Why are They Leaving?

These are the two generations that are resigning, turning down offers to return to work, or indicating that they plan to make job or career changes in the future. It’s fairly easy to see why this is the case if you take a closer look at their generational experience.

Younger workers overall are more likely to be paid less. They are often in lower-tier positions. Before the pandemic, they were more likely to be terminated or laid off in difficult economic times or during company restructuring. 

Because of this, Gen-Z and Millennials were less likely to feel satisfied with their jobs or to feel loyalty to their employers. Further, many have reported feeling dismissed and stereotyped by older workers and management.

On a positive note, younger workers are more likely to have advanced technical skills and be willing to continue building their skill sets. Many spent the pandemic doing just that.

It’s also important to remember that even before the pandemic, employees from these generations were more likely to leave jobs searching for better pay, career growth, or desirable schedules. 

Younger workers are also more accustomed to remote work, flexible schedules, and other non-financial benefits. Many are unwilling to return to jobs where those options are no longer available.

How Can Employers Continue to Attract Quality Candidates?

Your goal is to attract and retain as many talented people as possible from every generation. It may be better to see this as helping to ensure age-based diversity within your staff than hiring based on age. 

The information here will certainly help with that. However, it needs to be integrated into a data-backed recruiting strategy

This data can be sourced from employee surveys, feedback from applicants, or even data mined from your recruiting sources. Once you have the data in place, you can analyze it to determine how well you are hiring employees from a range of age groups.

Look at Your Recruiting Sources

Are you reaching out to candidates from a wide range of sources? If not, you may be limiting your reach to people within a smaller age range. Consider the demographics of the applicants you are getting based on recruiting sources. It may be time to diversify.

Market Company Culture for Wide Appeal

It can be challenging to create a healthy, multi-generational company culture. However, it’s necessary as long as the workforce is widely spread among four generations of employees. 

The best place to start is basing the culture around elements that are widely valued regardless of generation. These include accountability, meritocracy, communication, collaboration, and respect.

After that, you can focus on things that may be appealing to different age demographics. For example, you might use training, tuition reimbursement, and remote work options to appeal to younger workers. 

Meanwhile, you might attract your older candidates with paid family leave. If you use your employees in your recruitment marketing, select workers from different age groups.

Adjust Salary and Compensation

Culture and work environment are important, but you won’t attract or retain workers from any generation if they aren’t paid a fair market rate. Pay attention to the going salary and compensation packages in your industry. Ensure that you are offering something competitive.

Then, take a closer look at what you are paying your existing team members. Poor salary is still a top reason for worker attrition. Be aware of wage compression, and be prepared to update your salary tables.


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