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Industry Insights | 13 minute read

From Boomers to Gen Z: Uniting APAC's multigenerational workforce for success

November 17, 2023

Nine out of 10 professionals believe having a multigenerational workforce contributes to the success of a business, a recent LinkedIn study revealed. Despite this, managers in APAC are currently facing challenges around effectively managing age-diverse groups.

Managing a multigenerational team in today’s talent landscape involves addressing employee burnout, the complexities of remote work and ways to keep all employees engaged and inspired. Organizations making a conscious effort to address this and actively bringing groups together will have more efficient, happier and productive workforces.

We’ve recently launched a survey to better understand the challenges workers in Asia face as it pertains to age differences in the workforce. As we await the results, we’ve compiled some qualitative insights from HR leaders across APAC about how to overcome some of the commonly quoted challenges facing today's multigenerational workforces.

Here are four major differences between employees across generations:

#1: Employee priorities

"Young generations are struggling between ambition and achieving work-life balance, whereas older generations know careers mean hard work, commitment and some personal sacrifices."
“Gen Z prioritise personal time, and are less about team collaboration.”
“There’s no magic wand — people should be trusted to do a good job regardless of generation.”

It’s crucial to be mindful of the varying priorities of every generation as employees and people. Each comes with distinct values and perspectives shaped by their experiences. For example, Baby Boomers often strive for job security, Millennials tend to pursue career progression and Gen X prioritises work-life harmony and financial security. For Gen Z, achieving a healthy work-life balance is a top priority. They value flexibility and most often prefer remote or hybrid work options.

Recognising that everyone is in different phases in their career journey and life stages, matters. Having knowledge in place helps, but getting to know people on a personal level to truly learn their working styles and what their ultimate career and personal goals are is key.

#2: Communication styles

What we heard

“Younger generations want more direct manager communication and for them to ‘look’ after them by showcasing their work and helping they get promoted. Contrastingly, the older generations accept their managers more at face value for who they are.”
“Get input from employees, as it’s not a guarantee for success to apply a blanket approach and assume it’ll work for all generations.”
“Older generations are more reliant on face-to-face interactions, while younger generations prefer more emails and messages.”

Much like day-to-day priorities, communication preferences vary widely between generations, too. Typically, older generations want their younger counterparts to put down their phones and place a higher value on in-person communication and collaboration. And younger generations are asking for efficiency and flexibility in communication by leveraging technology, like instant messaging and video calls. But these are stereotypes. All these communication methods are available to us, so understand the personal preferences of communication style for those you work with on a regular basis.

Because of these differing preferences, it’s important as a leader to be flexible on how and where you meet with employees when collaborating.

#3: Learning and growth opportunities

“Gen Z employees tend to leave sooner if they find a role isn’t a good fit for them.”
“Younger employees look for firms that contribute to the community and want to see their role having larger purpose and meaning.”
“Mentors with younger generations tend to better understand each other through effective technology adoption.”

To ensure employees from different generations can meet their role requirements, it’s essential to provide them with the necessary training, development and mentorship. Baby Boomers often prefer structured and formal learning environments. They may appreciate traditional classroom-style training, workshops and seminars.

Gen X tends to value autonomy and self-directed learning. They appreciate having the freedom to choose how they acquire new skills and knowledge, whether through online courses, books or hands-on experiences. Gen Z values continuous learning and development. They tend to prefer online courses, webinars, and short, engaging educational content. Providing them with opportunities for skill-building and growth is essential for retaining and motivating them.

Read more: The dos and don'ts of talent mobility

Despite the different preferences, encouraging partnerships between employees across generations gives them an opportunity to learn from each other. This can bridge generational differences through sharing stories and exchanging tips and tricks for how they learn. It’s interpersonal relationships that are the foundation of having a united workforce across departments and generations.

#4: Employer expectations


“No one size fits all generations, especially when it comes to rewards and traditional benefits.”
“Many younger generation employees want their views to be heard and are less likely to take something at face value.”
“Some preferences are as a result of life stage and not an outcome from being in a generation, such as starting a family.”

It’s challenging to ensure all employees feel their needs are being met regarding work-life balance, wellness initiatives and mental health. Having an openness to understanding what people prefer and why (such as life stage and caretaking responsibilities) goes a long way.

For example, Gen X typically seek job stability and professional development opportunities, Millennials desire job satisfaction and flexible working hours, while Baby Boomers desire purpose and loyalty from their employers. 

Read more: Strategic workforce planning: 4 questions to elevate the talent function

Gen Z may have different expectations of leadership. They value leaders who are approachable, transparent and open to input from all levels of the organisation. They may not respond as well to traditional hierarchical leadership styles.

Age diversity is a strength

Organisations can build a more unified, respectful and efficient atmosphere by recognising and appreciating age diversity in the workplace. While it can be stressful to navigate, having a fresh perspective to constantly learn and grow builds a solid foundation for a healthy, happy working environment. This also leads to improved business results and innovation.

The next blog post in this series will showcase our findings from the recent survey, as well as ways you can apply this information in your 2024 business plans for your multigenerational workforce to flourish.

The demand for talent continues to grow.
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About Ramona Soares

Ramona is a highly commercial, dynamic and results driven HR recruitment professional with more than 15 years' experience in talent acquisition across Europe, USA, Middle East, Africa and Asia. She has exposure and experience dealing with the latest recruitment technologies and online tools coupled with strong people management and leadership skills and a keen emphasis on team development and performance management. Ramona is an excellent communicator and stakeholder manager with a clear focus on delivering positive results.