The contingent workforce is valuable for businesses that are looking to bring in specialized team members on an as-needed basis. As an employer, contingent workers provide flexibility and financial benefits to your organization, but you must know how to manage workers from different generations if you want to maximize their productivity and satisfaction with your workplace. The key to proper management of a contingent workforce is in understanding the differences between these generations and allowing them to guide your management style.
Baby boomers are the generation born during the “baby boom” between the mid 1940s and the early 1960s. Baby boomers are the oldest part of today’s workforce. If you are working with baby boomers in your contingent workforce, keep the following points in mind:
- This generation often prefers to speak in-person or on the phone instead of through email or online chat.
- Baby boomers place value on hard work. They are committed to their job and will do what is necessary to complete the tasks given to them.
- Baby Boomers are great at mentoring or leading teams: with their wealth of experience, baby boomers can help younger workers realize the full extent of their abilities.
Generation XGeneration X is often the largest part of a company’s workforce. Generation X workers are frequently part of the “sandwich” generation that is juggling the responsibilities of caring for their children, their aging parents, and fulfilling workplace commitments. For managing Generation X in the contingent workforce, remember these characteristics:
- Generation X values a good work/life balance. In an article for Entrepreneur, Dr. David G. Javitch writes that Generation X tends to have a “work hard, play hard” attitude.
- Generation X needs room for growth: members of the contingent workforce in Generation X want to feel like they are developing both personally and professionally.
- Generation X should not be micro-managed: workers in this age group can work independently and can handle constructive feedback. As long as goals and objectives are properly stated, there is no need to provide a rigid structure that may constrict creativity.
Generation YGeneration Y is the largest American generation. According to Linda Stern at Reuters, there are about 92 million Generation Ys, compared to only 76 million Baby Boomers. In many cases, workers of Generation Y have felt the sting of a downtrodden economy more fully than their peers from other generations. Management tips for Generation Y include:
- Generation Y values recognition. In a Forbes article about hiring Generation Y employees, Marc Compeau points out that members of this generation were raised by parents who focused on building their self-esteem. Millennials look for recognition of their accomplishments and results.
- Generation Y are strong multi-taskers: growing up in the digital age means that Generation Y workers were exposed to more simultaneous sources of information than ever before, from televisions and computers to books and smartphones. Generation Y workers are capable of taking information from multiple sources and working on several projects at a time.
- Generation Y likes to build workplace relationships: this generation craves a connection with their colleagues and supervisors. They value the opportunity to talk about their hobbies and interests outside of work.
Use these tips to build mutual respect and appreciation with your contingent workforce to help you get the most value from the work that they do.