Q&A: Can we close the workplace generation gap?

Danny Speros, Director of People Ops, Zenefits
May 20, 2021

With more and more Gen Zers entering the workforce every day, today’s workforce is very generationally diverse. But can we close the gap?

On this episode of POPS!, Zenefits VP of People Ops Danny Speros breaks down what different generations value at work, what every generation has in common, and how to unify a team despite generational differences.

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On this Q&A, you’ll hear: 

  • [01:08-01:28] The defining factors that shape generations
  • [01:28-02:36] What defines people based on their life and career stage
  • [02:46-03:27] What all people of all generations have in common at work
  • [03:29-04:42] How to embrace and celebrate generational differences

POPS Star Bio

Danny comes from a family of entrepreneurs and spent 8 years running the family construction business including HR, Sales, Operations and Accounting. He understands the joys and challenges of building a business and learned a lot about how to avoid some common pitfalls. This context fuels his passion for working with other small businesses at Zenefits. Today, Danny taps more than 20 years of People Ops and small business leadership in his role as VP of People Ops at Zenefits. This makes him a great guest expert for the podcast, so you’ll hear from him often.  And you might just catch an occasional cameo from his young daughter in the background.


Danny: Can we close the workplace generation gap?

Didi: Welcome to POPS the show that shows you how to shift from human resources, paperwork to people operations, but the new world of work handle by answering one question at a time

today, to help us answer your question. Here’s Danny Speros, VP of People Ops at 

Danny: Zenefits. Yup. I remember hearing lots about how generation X was different than the previous generations before it certainly in the last 10 or 15 years in the human resources and people ops have learned and read a lot about how younger generations.

So the millennials first and now generation Z are different from older generations generation Z now makes up. 5% of the workforce and growing, obviously. So every year there’s going to be a bigger and bigger chunk of that. Especially as older generations also start to retire and move on to different life experiences.

Every generation is going to be somewhat defined. By our life experiences, political events, economic conditions that have happened through the course of our lives and the technology that we grew up with and continue to use and how we use it and how we approach technology. Those things sort of shape generations as a whole.

However, they don’t necessarily define every single person within a generation. Over time. People are somewhat more defined less by their generation and more by their stage of life, their career stage, whether they’re new to the workforce mid career, late career, whether they have a family or not, which.

Doesn’t necessarily have to have anything to do with age, but those kinds of things tend to shape people in a little different ways as well. Looking at it from strictly like a career stage standpoint, people early in their career stage. So these are generalizing going to be your. The younger generations are going to certainly want to pay more attention to things like money because coming out of college, there’s loans, there’s expectations, and it’s important to grow early in their career.

Different people at different points in their life are going to value, flexibility over for stability. And sometimes even older generations are going to value that flexibility. If they’ve got stability elsewhere in their life. Benefits how people approach benefits, whether or not they’d need family coverage, thought, family coverage, things along those lines.

Those are all things that may be different. And that you’d want to look at from a generational point of view in terms of, are you meeting the needs of those different things, but in terms of closing the gap, There are things that people of all generations have in common people of all generations want to be compelled by the work that they do, whether it’s identifying with the mission or feeling like the work that they do has a purpose, whether it’s towards their customers, towards their coworkers.

Towards the community as a whole people of all generations are going to value community and especially over the course of the last year through the pandemic, that sense of community and that need for community has probably grown a little stronger for a lot of people, really just in the absence of having that, a lot of that face-to-face contact or some of the things that had defined their community before this.

There is some amount of fun in just learning from people from different points of view, different stages in their life. And so I think it’s important to embrace the differences that we bring to the table. Look at it as an opportunity for each of us to learn from each other. And in that way, we can actually close that gap by celebrating our differences.

Yes. Thing you might think to do with your teams is to do some sort of. Trivia game where you break people up into different teams, but make sure that you have people from different generations or different groups aligned on the same team against another group that represents people from different to different generations again, on the same team.

So you’re essentially teaming boomers and Z and millennials and X up with each other and maybe do some trivia questions around games that would have been played as kids. For people of different generations and video games and possibly even cartoons and things along those lines so that they have to work together value the input that each of them brings to the table in hopefully winning against another team.

So that you’re actually unifying people. 

Didi: Do you have a question for our experts? Click the link in the show notes, or if you’ve got other ideas and feedback about our show, send them to [email protected]


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