What Makes Workers Happy? A Look at Multigenerational Offices (Part I of II)

You know how valuable your best employees are to your organization, how they keep your organization productive and moving in the right direction. As such, you simply can’t afford to lose them; they are just too valuable. But how do you hang on to your best and brightest employees? How can you keep superstars and the promising stars of tomorrow satisfied and excited about their jobs so that you can keep them? In addition, what challenges are added when you manage multigenerational offices?

As awareness of cultural diversity builds, you will be able to make diversity more and more a part of your daily management practices. By incorporating their understanding of the values and behaviors of the different generations, managers can adapt their styles to meet their employees’ needs.

General Guideline: Assume the best of people and allow them to prove themselves. Tell people why they were hired, the great things they have to offer, and let them fulfill those expectations.

Qualities Silent Generation (Born 1925-1945) Workers Look For

Granted, you probably won’t have more than one or two of this generation in your workforce unless they are in upper management on one end, or as a retiree working a part-time job on the other. Still, with the financial collapse a few years ago, many in this generation saw their retirement savings wiped out and are forced to go back to work. Here’s insight into this generation:


Although the learning curve may be steeper for the Silents in some positions, once they master a job, they have really mastered it. And they put it into the context of greater life experience more than the younger worker.


Make sure the leaders of your organization are persons of integrity. Silents will go to battle for someone they trust and respect.


Always let Silents know that they will be valued for their life experiences and knowledge. Demonstrate respect for their achievements.

Qualities Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1955) Look For

Boomers are heading into retirement age. But, like Silents, they may be forced to work longer if their pensions and retirement savings were lost or drastically reduced.

Star Status

At this stage in their careers, Boomers want to know they can excel in your organization. Show them how they can be stars. Remember, Boomers tend to define themselves by their jobs, and they want to be proven as unique.


Boomers need to see where their expertise will be used to make a difference in the organization. Shifts in careers happen now to influence their legacy.


Beyond salary and benefits, Boomers will be interested by what else the job offers. Will they have an office in a nice location? Can they keep their frequent-flier miles? Does the company hold memberships to airport club-rooms?

Qualities Joneses (Born 1956-1965) Look For

While this generational description is less well-known, I’ve always preferred it as I believe there is a distinct difference between the first half of the Boomer generation and the latter half. Author Jonathan Pontell is credited with coining the name “Generation Jones” and it has several connotations, including a large anonymous generation, a “keeping up with the Joneses” competitiveness and the slang word “jones” or “jonesing”, meaning a yearning or craving.

It is said that Jonesers had huge expectations as children in the 1960s. Unfortunately, they encountered a different reality as they came of age during a long period of mass unemployment. Then, when de-industrialization arrived full force in the mid-late 1970s and 1980s, it left them with a certain unrequited “jonesing” quality for the more prosperous days of the past. This is the first generation of Americans in a very, very long time that didn’t have it better than their parent’s generation and it left scars on them.


This is the time in the life of Joneses when moving up is critical for the later stages of their careers.


Many Joneses are tired of working to earn and now look for the “meaning” of what they do with their careers and how it can have a positive impact on the world.


Joneses have lived through several job upheavals in the last 20 years. They are now looking for a company’s solvency and stability before they sign on.

Older employees still have a wealth of advantages to give any company today. Embrace their strengths, loyalty and work ethics and your organization will be better off.

(Come back next week for Part II of this managing multigenerational offices series when we’ll look at working with Gen Xers through the iGeneration.)



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