The silver tsunami is looming. Are you prepared? 

5 practical strategies to attract a multigenerational workforce

December 14, 2021

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Looming on the horizon is the silver tsunami. As experienced workers from the baby boomer generation retire, employers are facing a severe shortage of skilled labor if they can’t recruit or retain millennial workers to fill those jobs.

Local and state governments, schools and nonprofits and other public sector organizations will likely see the biggest impact, because baby boomers make up the highest percentage of their workers. This includes the “brain drain” of institutional knowledge from top executive levels to the individual contributors. When there aren’t enough younger workers who are ready and experienced to fill those gaps, the quality and service of those organizations will struggle. The impact of the pandemic accelerated the pace with 40% of baby boomers in retirement, according to Pew Research.1

Percentage of workers 55+ by 2020

55 percent
Bus drivers

38 percent

37 percent
Postsecondary teachers

25 percent
Social assistance
25 percent
Public administration
25 percent
Management professionals
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, 2020.

“Another issue for the public sector is the stereotypical red tape and outdated technology,” said Steve Vermette National Sales Leader, Public Sector at Colonial Life. “Whether it's private or public sector, it’s pretty competitive for skilled talent right now, so this kind of image makes it even more difficult to attract younger generations.”

A new approach is needed to recruit and retain a multigenerational workforce. Here are five practical strategies that can step up your competitiveness for skilled talent. 

1. Invest in HR recruiting technology

Overcome outdated processes by implementing technology tools that make it easy for candidates to apply for job postings online, track their status, and view related civil service or professional exam scores. Software such as an applicant tracking system can reduce the hiring time by weeks or months, which in turn, can make organizations more competitive for skilled talent. And you can quickly short-list candidates using artificial intelligence tools.

Make sure your job titles and descriptions are appealing to a large and diverse group with writing tools such as an augmented writing platform. The job description strips out jargon, problematic terms and creates first impression as to what it’s like to work at your organization.

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The State of Connecticut received 7X more job applications after revamping the process which included HR recruiting technology.

Source: State of Connecticut, Dept. of Admin. Services, and Office Policy, 2021.

2. Sweeten the applicant pool with remote and flex schedules

Jobs that can be done either remote, hybrid of remote and onsite, or on flexible schedule will automatically become more desirable to a bigger and more diverse pool of applicants. As many employers realized during the pandemic, remote work and flexible schedules are overwhelmingly popular while maintaining productivity.

Organizations that can offer remote or flex schedules will attract a higher number and a more diverse pool of applicants, including working mothers and others who want to cut down on commute times. Providing flexible work options, sends a strong message to potential applicants, especially to millennials, that your organization is keeping up with forward-looking work practices.  

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85% of Americans prefer applying for jobs offering remote or hybrid options vs. jobs that require full-time, in-office work.

Source: GoodHire, The State of Remote Work in 2021: A Survey of the American Workforce.

3. Enhance the employee experience with digital tools

Digital tools and self-service portals with personalized dashboards enable workers to process their employee-related “paperwork” quickly and efficiently in a fraction of the time it would take to do in person in the HR office.

E-learning platforms is another powerful digital experience that can offer professional development opportunities (certification, college credit or skill development) that will make an organization more competitive to diverse workers. What’s more, e-platforms are highly adaptable to provide online courses that cater to a broad skill development to more specialized industry-related courses. 

4. Create a purpose-driven culture

Many younger workers want a greater sense of meaning and purpose in their jobs. The pandemic has caused thousands of workers across the country to re-evaluate their careers and lives, setting off The Great Resignation — with tens of thousands quitting their jobs. Public service organizations have a natural advantage in providing that higher sense of purpose because of its direct involvement within the community that many workers are seeking.

Organizations can nurture that advantage by developing a purpose-driven culture in and outside the public service organization with active social media, community events and other public outreach that are relevant to its community and mission. Employers should also evaluate and update their mission branding so that it speaks to today’s multigenerational workforce.

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60% of Millennial workers find great meaning and purpose in their work.

Source: GoodHire, The Meaning of Work in 2021 — A generational divide, 2021.

5. Personalize and customize benefits to appeal to a diverse workforce

Today’s workers expect more customization in their benefit options. Employers should understand the broad demographics, including the life stages and motivations across these generations when they’re developing the benefits package for their workers.

And because voluntary benefits are so versatile, they’re very effective in addressing many workers’ needs at minimal or no cost to the employer. But the versatility of voluntary benefits means it can seem complicated to the average employee. That’s where benefits counseling comes in. The key to appealing to multiple generations is the ability to offer personalized counseling in a face-to-face either on the job site or through virtual technology (screen-to-screen).

Implementing some of these strategies has made all the difference in recruitment for the State of Connecticut.

“Our applicants are coming from all over the country,” said Nick Hermes, Chief Human Resources Officer for the State of Connecticut. “Our applicant pool is very diverse, with many more veterans, more women, more minority applicants, and from different generations.”

For more strategies on attracting and recruiting a multigenerational workforce, watch our webinar, How to ride the silver tsunami.