The Multi-Generational Frontline Workforce Pt I: Working Side By Side

Wisetail | 5 min read

We’re sitting in a spot we’ve never sat have beforefor the first time in United States history, four distinct generations working side by side. This diversity spans from Baby Boomers and Generation X, to Millennials and Generation Z, making it the widest generational gap observed.  

These 4 generations find themselves side by side because of extended careers, economic necessities (hello inflation!), and the increasingly delayed retirement of older generations.  

The need for Learning and Development (L&D), Operations, and Human Resources (HR) to work harder to understand and support everyone to succeed at work is only increasing. This means changing how we train people, how we manage, and even the rules at work.  

In this six-part series, we’re taking out our magnifying glasses to highlight each generation—examining their characteristics, what motivates them, and how they differ from each other. We’ll analyze the unique contributions each generation brings to the table and how understanding these differences can be leveraged to create a harmonious and productive work environment. 

The Four Generational Divide 

  • Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964, this generation has witnessed the evolution of the retail and restaurant industries from their paper-and-pen stages to today’s digital age. 
  • Generation X: Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen Xers are known for their strong work ethic and bridge the gap between the Boomers and younger generations. 
  • Millennials: Born between 1981 and 1996, they have been at the forefront of technological adoption and social change, reshaping customer service expectations. 
  • Generation Z: Born from 1997 onward, the youngest working generation brings a fresh perspective, digital nativity, and a strong emphasis on social and environmental issues. 

What It Means For You & Why You Should Pay Attention 

For L&D, HR, and Ops professionals, recognizing the varied values, learning styles, motivations, and interaction preferences of each generation is key to fostering an inclusive workplace and leading an engaged team. Tailoring strategies that understand (and support) these diverse needs can significantly increase retention, enhance employee engagement, and facilitate cross-generational collaboration to  save bottom-dollar. 

Paying attention to these generations and adjusting accordingly is key for: 

  • Increase Retention Rates: Understanding what each generation values can help tailor strategies to increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover. 
  • Boost Engagement: Creating a workplace that resonates with every generation can deepen their connection with the company. 
  • Facilitate Cross-Generational Collaboration: Promoting understanding and respect among different generations can enhance teamwork and innovation. 
  • Address Labor Shortages: In a challenging hiring landscape, retaining a diverse workforce is more crucial than ever. 

Check out the next part of the series, where we take a deeper look at Gen Z their work ethos, their communication styles, and what their careers look like so far (specifically within the retail and restaurant industries).  We dive into tactics that engage them as well as what might give them the ick.