The future of work not only has to contend with shifting employee expectations and emerging technologies, but for the first time in history, there are four generations in the workplace at the same time.
There are currently 157 million Americans that make up the U.S. workforce. Millennials (born between 1981-1996) make up the largest (35%) portion of the U.S. labor force; however, there is still a sizable contingency of Baby Boomer and Gen X employees. While Gen Z accounts for only 5% of people in the workforce at present, that percentage is expected to jump by 2025.
|Generation||Born Between||U.S. Labor Force, |
|% of U.S. |
|Baby Boomers||1946–1964||41 Million||25%|
|Gen X||1965–1980||53 Million||33%|
|Gen Z||1997–2012||9 Million||5%|
As people live longer, they are also working longer than previous generations and working differently. The title industry needs a multigenerational approach to recruit and retain talent.
What this means for your business
A multigenerational workforce presents an exciting opportunity for businesses to maximize the knowledge and expertise of their more tenured talent while also bringing in a diversity of thought to innovate and breakthrough the way “things have always been done.” Businesses must view this time as an opportunity to usher in new talent while also ensuring long-standing talent is appreciated. Below are a few areas where a multigenerational workforce can help deepen company culture and create positive work environments for all.
Greater opportunity for knowledge exchange
Each generation brings a unique set of skills and perspectives that will benefit others. A multigenerational workforce allows for immense knowledge exchange. Baby Boomers and Gen X can share the industry knowledge and expertise that they have developed over the years. Meanwhile, Millenials and Gen Z are digital natives and their tech-savviness can help to upskill the more tenured workforce.
The title industry is complex, and the learnings are in the doing. Mentorship opportunities can help new people coming into the industry learn from example through more experienced employees. This is a win-win for businesses. Research shows that having strong mentors leads to greater organizational commitment and job satisfaction. It also mitigates the loss of industry knowledge and provides the chance to build strong relationships that will lend to successful role transitions in the future.
Diversity of thought and new ways to problem-solve
Seasoned title professionals often say, “every day is different in the title industry.” This is because every single transaction is unique (different parties, properties, and set of circumstances). The uniqueness of each transaction provides a new set of opportunities as well as challenges. Each generation will approach these with diverse perspectives and solutions—paving the way for new learnings and innovation.
What motivates each generation
It is essential to understand what motivates each generation in order to recruit and retain talent. Let’s look at the motivators and debunk some of the myths associated with each generation.
Gen Z (1997–2012)
While Gen Z is the newest cohort to enter the workforce, they still know what they want from employers. In general, Gen Zers share some of the following traits and expectations:
- Opportunities to pursue varied interests: Gen Zers love to multi-task and explore their passions. They often achieve this by taking on multiple roles within an organization or having a side hustle in addition to their full-time job. Engaging with Gen Z often means catering to their need for diverse activities and tasks.
- Face-to-face communications: Although Gen Z are digital natives, they actually want face-to-face interaction with their colleagues.
- Career growth: Despite their propensity to multi-task, the Gen Z generation wants to stick around for the long term with their employer. 64% of Gen Zs value career growth as a top career priority.
- Modern technology: According to Ryan Jenkins, Millennial & Generation Z Expert, 41% of Gen Z professionals say they would be influenced to work at a company based on its technological sophistication.
- Practical benefits: The Gen Z generation doesn’t have lofty demands for cushy benefits. The top 3 must-haves for their first job are health insurance (70%), a competitive salary (63%), and a boss they can respect (61%).
Today, Gen Z makes up more than a quarter of the total U.S. population and they are believed to be the most diverse generation ever with unique perspectives on careers, success, and the workforce. Title companies that can provide mentorship, training, and leadership programs, along with a focus on diversity, will win the hearts and minds of this generation. Plus, title occupations (not including attorneys) offer a median wage higher than the national median w age for occupations that require the same level of education and on-the-job training. The title industry’s competitive salary can prove to be highly desirable to this next generation entering the workforce.
Millennials are currently the largest generation in the workforce. For them, work and life are inextricably linked. In general, Millennials share these common traits and expectations:
- A one-on-one approach: Millennials don’t want to be just an employee number. They appreciate employers who get to know them on a personal level and take the time to communicate with them in detail about their performance.
- Purpose-driven: In a recent interview with Qualia, Tom Griffiths, Co-Founder & CEO of Hone, a next-generation training platform in modern leadership, said that millennials want two things from their career: purpose and growth opportunities.
- Access to the latest technology: Millennials find working with clunky software systems frustrating. As a digitally native generation, Millennials are also “accustomed to high-grade consumer-level technology,” said Griffiths. Title & escrow companies should evaluate their technology stack to ensure they can meet the digital needs of the next generation of title professionals as well as their partners, clients, homebuyers, and sellers.
When it comes to the purpose-filled work millennials desire, the title industry is a natural fit. Not only are title professionals helping people through a major life event, but they are also truly making a difference by helping people protect one of the most significant investments they will make in their lifetime.
Many millennials rank career growth over the paycheck when it comes to choosing an employer. Fortunately, the title industry offers an array of career advancement opportunities; however, it is up to employers to clearly articulate these opportunities and demonstrate paths to advancement.
Gen X (1965–1980)
Gen X has hit their stride in the workplace. For the most part, this generation thrives in organizations that provide opportunities for growth, autonomy to complete projects and tasks, and overall respect for the experiences they bring to the table. The following are the general characteristics associated with Gen X:
- Independent: Gen X is no stranger to the workforce. They are generally independent and enjoy autonomy to get the job done. This generation is resourceful and adept at problem-solving. Employers should offer opportunities for them to lead projects and prove their responsibility. Gen X typically prefers open management styles and is resistant to micromanaging.
- Direct and open to feedback: Gen Xers welcome open and honest communication so they can move forward efficiently with their work. Employers might consider offering performance reviews and occasional check-ins to appease the need for consistent feedback loops.
- Highly collaborative: According to U.S. News, Gen Xers collaborate as a way of life. Even though they are independent, this generation is also highly collaborative–making strong connections with team members and working through challenges as a group. Employers should offer opportunities for group brainstorming and problem-solving.
- Flexible: This generation has seen its share of economic ups and downs. As a result, Gen Xers are flexible and amenable to change.
Gen X employees are an asset to title companies because they often carry a lot of experience and knowledge. Many Gen Xers have been working in title for decades, and have built up a solid portfolio of different transaction types. They also appreciate opportunities to autonomously find solutions and fix problems in day-to-day business operations. Their flexibility and adaptability are crucial traits during times of constant change—especially now, as the real estate industry undergoes its digital transformation.
Baby Boomers (1946–1964)
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Baby Boomers, on average, have held over a dozen jobs (from the ages of 18 to 52). This generation of seasoned professionals holds the brain trust of organizational knowledge. In general, the following are some expectations and characteristics of Baby Boomers:
- Clear expectations and defined roles: Baby boomers are not likely to thrive in the ambiguity of roles and expectations. They crave clear goal-setting and deadlines.
- Knowledge exchange: Baby Boomers are a walking trust of knowledge and appreciate opportunities to share their experiences through mentorship and thrive in team settings.
- Tech ready: Contrary to popular belief, Baby Boomers are more adaptable to new technology than other generations and desire opportunities to learn new technology skills on the job
Baby Boomers were not raised with technology but studies show that they are actually more adaptable to new technologies than other generations. Arley Nevar, a Strategic Account Executive for Qualia has said in the past that some of Qualia’s biggest cheerleaders are Baby Boomers. “When I talk to people in the industry, there’s a common stereotype that the veteran employees will be resistant to technology and new workflows because it will require too much stress and a departure from the way they’ve been operating for decades,” she said. “In reality, many of these people have seen a number of changes from typewriters to computers and have adjusted from mail to fax to email to deliver files. They are much more adaptable to technology changes than we think.”
This is an exciting time in the real estate industry, and businesses that leverage the skills of their multigenerational talent and technology will benefit greatly.