What's wrong with today's workforce

Managing a multigenerational workforce

From the determined university graduate who starts his first job to the experienced professional with many years of professional experience and specialist knowledge - the diversity of today's employee profiles is great. This is often a major challenge for companies. Whether traditionalist, baby boomer, Generation X, Millennial or Generation Z, each of these employees has their own worldview, talent, life experience, expectations of an employer and different demands on a successful day-to-day work.

In human resource management and corporate governance, little attention has been paid to dealing with and working together between different generations. Companies now have to deal intensively with this topic. The management of a workforce that not only consists of so many generations, but whose representatives also have very different backgrounds - from the traditionalists who grew up in a largely analogue world to the digital natives of millennials and Generation Z - is complex. The tasks that HR managers have to face today are therefore becoming more and more demanding.

Survey on the challenges of a multigenerational workforce

To understand the challenges and opportunities involved, Sage conducted a global survey of HR professionals and HR leaders. The questions revolved around her experiences in today's HR landscape, her expectations for the future in human resources, and her approach to managing an international workforce. How can this diversity be used effectively and for the long-term benefit of a company? How can it be ensured that employees, according to their age and skills, receive the support they need to perform at their best?

17 to 70 years: managing a multigenerational workforce

How to cope with the challenges and opportunities of today's new, cross-generational workforce.


To the study

According to respondents, some generations present greater challenges than others. For those surveyed, the management of baby boomers and traditionalists is particularly complex. It is exciting that these are the two oldest generation groups that also increasingly prefer stability and predictability. This undoubtedly plays a major role in the perceived challenges - especially if they have to be solved by representatives of younger generations.

The following five aspects are the most challenging for the interviewed HR managers:


  • Hire applicants with the right skills

The inclusion of qualified employees who also fit the corporate culture is of the utmost importance across all five generations. The different skills that each group offers should complement each other well. In this context, particular importance is attached to the corresponding digital qualifications. 29 percent of respondents reported having difficulty finding new employees with the required digital skills.

  • Effective training and development

The development needs of a Gen X member can differ significantly from those of a Millennial. The key question is: How can you optimally accompany all employees on their career path and support them in achieving the best possible performance? Answering this question is one of the most pressing challenges for 22 percent of the study participants.

  • "Management" of millennials and the rise of the "gig economy"

Independence and self-determination are central to the millennial worldview. This is reflected in the growing demand for fixed-term, project or time-based employment contracts. Employers can use this to their advantage by focusing energy and creativity and aligning them with the common goal. For many companies, however, the desire for more creative freedom and self-determination in everyday work is still a major challenge.

  • Conform communication with the workforce

Each generation speaks its own “language” and reacts differently to tone, medium and style. In order for a message to really get through, there must be appropriate, well-prepared internal communication. For this it is necessary that those responsible have a sufficiently broad overview of and sufficiently deep insights into their employee structure. 54 percent of the survey participants have the feeling that they need more insights into their entire workforce. 44 percent rate this as incomplete.

  • Create leadership pipelines

How does a company identify and educate the leaders of tomorrow when the current workforce is complex and constantly changing? In the future, managers will be needed whose social skills are particularly strong and who can treat all five generations with respect. Managers are needed who ensure that the professional experience of their employees is worthwhile for them. Clear and useful information on competencies, talents and potential of employees is crucial here. The extraction and analysis of this information requires a focused vision and suitable tools, which almost half of the respondents in the aforementioned survey agreed on. This is especially true the more complex the workforce is - keyword: five generations under one roof.

Predictive analytics in HR

So how do you improve the understanding of a multigenerational workforce? According to some respondents, this requires several requirements: On the one hand, the ability to consolidate and correlate employee data from various sources and, on the other hand, predictive analytics in order to be able to foresee future developments. Modern visualization tools are also required to better communicate findings, trends and patterns. 34 percent have already hired data analysts or people scientists to help them get a clearer picture. Against the background of the multi-generational structure of the workforce described above, the requirements are becoming increasingly important in many companies. The management of five different generations is uncharted territory for many people in charge. HR professionals and companies need to rethink existing processes to accommodate the new reality and gain an advantage. The empirical, data-driven approach described is one way of achieving this by better understanding the needs and perspectives of each generation.

The more HR managers know about their employees, the better they can support their day-to-day work. The corresponding HR software plays an essential role and should, in a modern company, be the central technological lever of the company's own personnel strategy.