With five generations in the workforce today, organizations and their HR departments are in uncharted territory. There are clear, distinct motivating factors for each age cohort, underscoring the fact that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to career satisfaction. In other words, managing human capital is more complex than ever before. 

People analytics, however, are emerging to help HR departments better understand their employees throughout their tenure at a company. Peakon (Disclosure: a Likeable client), is one such company that leverages more than 40 million survey responses from employees in 125 countries to understand what makes the workforce tick. In their most recent report, Working Better Together: Understanding the experience and needs of a multigenerational workforce, Peakon analyzed key motivating factors, characteristics and nuances of each generation in the workplace. While this seems like an impossible task, Peakon relied on its True Benchmark normalization so to account for biases, such as tenure, region or sample size by industry (i.e. the sheer number of millennials in tech).

The Working Better Together report analyzed how generational groups stacked up across the 14 key driver categories in Peakon's platform, covering topics like loyalty, belief in strategy, mission, purpose and reward. The 4 key takeaways include: 

  1. Baby Boomers are the most engaged and loyal generation

  2. Baby Boomers have the most faith in their organization's strategy

  3. Millennials find less meaning in their work

  4. Millennials are least satisfied with their pay

Engagement is a broad term, but in relation to the workforce, it refers to how invested a person is in your company. How likely is it you would recommend [company] as a place to work? This question inspires the respondent to consider a wide range of factors in responding, and is a core metric in the report's methodology. 

The Working Better Together report found that Baby Boomers maintain the highest levels of engagement over the course of their tenure, whereas Gen Z and millennials decline quite steeply as time goes on. Specifically among employees with 3+, 4+ and 5+ year tenures, there is a significant difference in engagement among boomers relative to their younger cohorts. 

This trend extends to loyalty to company and position as well. In response to the question: If you were offered the same job at another organization, how likely is it that you would stay with [current company?], Baby Boomers, overall, maintain much higher loyalty to their company as time goes on relative to younger cohorts. Specifically at 3+ years, Peakon found a clear dropoff among Gen Z and millennial employees, whereas boomer loyalty remained high. This indicates that millennials and members of Generation Z are most likely to leave their positions with their current jobs for the exact same one at a different company. The results from this question are likely related to Boomers' higher employee engagement levels, and the simple factor of age bringing them closer to retirement and giving them less of a reason for a role change. 

In response to questions of company mission and strategy, Millennials showed the most surprising results. Known for being driven by experiences, purpose, and passion, the analysis of millennials in the workplace showed that they actually do not find meaning in their work... at least at their day jobs. These findings might justify the phenomenon of the "side hustle"-- what they lack in their day-to-day, Millennials are making up for in passion projects and the gig economy.

Unsurprisingly, given the prevailing narrative around their generation today, Millennials are least satisfied with their pay out of all of the generations. For context, when compared to their older counterparts, millennials carry the most student debt, are making less than their parents when adjusted for inflation, and are dealing with factors like home values skyrocketing by 1000% compared to the 1960s. Millennials see a clear need for higher compensation, and they aren't going to sacrifice that for loyalty to a company. 

What can you do with these insights?

If you're a leader with a multigenerational staff, it means that there are distinctly different motivating factors for different people on your team. Based on the insights, if you're talking to a Boomer who's been with the company for 3+ years, that individual likely has a high loyalty to your firm. Conversely, a Millennial with the same tenure is likely at the very least beginning to look at what else is out there-- especially if there's a pay increase involved. With so many nuances in employee engagement, data and analytics are absolutely critical in assessing these factors today, giving CEOs and HR departments an understanding of what they can do to build the highest performing culture possible.