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Managing the Multigenerational Mobile Workforce 08.23.2019 | Jennifer Connell

relocating many generations

Today’s mobile workforce includes more generations and demographics than ever before. How do you keep them all happy and productive? What mobility benefits make the difference? What are the communication skills you need to know to keep employees at every level engaged?

These are some of the questions addressed during a recent roundtable session which featured myself and a number of corporate mobility professionals. In this post, I wanted to collect a few of the session’s key takeaways.

We have moved from an era where the workforce was dominated by one generation (Baby Boomers in the 1980s) to an era that will see a mix of four generations working side-by-side (Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z). Each of these generations has very different needs when it comes to relocation benefits, which is inspiring — and in some cases requiring — companies to get creative with their hiring and retention practices.

As one example, with multiple generations living under the same roof (or in very close proximity) companies have been re-thinking their definition of “family,” and, accordingly, who’s entitled to benefits.

One of the companies on our panel takes a very liberal view towards family units, eschewing the concept of “married” to move couples in committed relationships. And the requirement of living under the same roof for the previous six months is on the honor system. Such progressive measures were part of a sweeping upgrade that this company made to all aspects of its hiring experience. The moves are paying off, as this company was recently named one of the “Best Places to Work” by Forbes Magazine.

Along with change to the family unit, mobility companies have also seen significant shifts in service offerings and utilization. Twenty years ago, homeowners made up 60% of the mobile population; today, renters make up 60%. Accordingly, relocating millennials typically have a lot less household goods vs. the Baby Boomers at the same age. Younger generations who are now (or soon will be) the majority of the workforce prefer “self help” tools like Uber and AirBnB, which makes for lower costs, but bring a trade-off in lack of control which increases duty of care concerns for employers.

That said, while conventional wisdom holds that millennials prefer Lump Sum/Cash Only benefits with little to no assistance, my day-to-day work helping companies build great mobility policies shows otherwise. Remember, this is the same generation whose parents (helicopter parents/tiger moms/etc.) have micro-managed their entire lives. Some of the lowest transferee satisfaction scores we see come from Lump Sum recipients who complain that there wasn’t enough guidance and “hand holding” throughout the process.

Something to keep in mind as you work to build a multigenerational mobile workforce. Got more questions? Shoot me an email.

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Written by Jennifer Connell

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Jennifer Connell, SCRP, SGMS-T, is Practice Leader with Weichert’s Advisory Services group. She has over 23 years of experience in the workforce mobility and employee benefits industries and received Worldwide ERC’s Distinguished Service Award in 2017. She has also spoken on workforce mobility topics at industry conferences throughout North America.

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