For what may be the first time in history, Iowa’s workforce is now employing people from five different generations. There’s the Traditionalists, born before 1946, the Baby Boomers, the Gen Xers, the Millennials and those from Generation Z.
Kathy Joblinske, executive vice president of Iowa Manpower, says the high demand for workers is the “new normal” since the 2008 recession.
“We’re finding that more people are staying in the workforce longer, they’re also healthier and living longer,” Joblinske says. “Those that may have retired earlier by now are sticking in the workforce a little bit longer and stretching out their income opportunity.”
The oldest Iowans in the workforce, the Traditionalists, typically place a high value on authority and top-down management. Joblinski says they have a reputation for being very hard working.
“They don’t want to retire so they come back maybe to that same company as a part-time individual, to pass on knowledge or to help in different departments,” Joblinske says. “You also see individuals who are just wanting some extra income, maybe to travel.”
Iowa’s unemployment rate of 2.6% has remained steady for a full year and is among the lowest jobless rates in the country.
“We are in dire need of great workers, people who want to show up to work every day,” Joblinske says. “There’s more jobs open than people looking for work. It’s a fantastic benefit to have all five generations in the workforce.”
The Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are usually seen as workaholics who believe things are done a certain way and consider it policy. The Generation Xers were born between 1965 and 1976. Joblinski says they’re generally comfortable with authority, they’ll work as hard as needed to succeed, and they seek a work/life balance.
“We’re finding that the Gen Z group is really financially focused, they’re focused on the pay and benefits,” Joblinske says. “The Millennials, they want jobs that are fulfilling. Not that pay isn’t important to them, because it is, but the work they do is very important to them.”
The diversity among employees from five generations can be beneficial, she says, because it brings together the different backgrounds and perspectives each generation provides.