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Four Key Demographics to Explore

Are you ready to take a closer look at your company's employee demographics? Since most of us have limited time and budgets, we can't consider every detail. But you should think about four critical categories: geography, years of service, age, and salary.

Geography

Even in this age where electronic communication breaks down boundaries, geography still matters. Where a person lives and works rates as an important part of his or her identity.

Gather the following demographic data on geography:

  • Your organization's geographic scope: Pinpoint all the locations on a map of the country or the globe, and see how your organization is distributed.
  • The number of employees who work at headquarters and other major locations.
  • Remote locations: how many employees work at small facilities.
  • Field employees (such as sales representatives), work-from-home employees, and client-located employees.

Years of Service

How long employees stay with an organization has both practical and cultural implications. A stable employee population has a long memory, which can be a positive (strong company heritage) or a negative (still seething over something that happened years ago). By contrast, if turnover is high, employees need to ramp up quickly on procedures and culture, and this information needs to be refreshed frequently.

Gather the following demographic data on tenure:

Length of Service

Percentage of Employees

Less than 1 year

1 to 3 years

3+ to 10 years

10+ to 20 years

20+ years

Age

Here's a demographic term for you: "generational cohort." This is "the aggregation of individuals who experience the same event within the same time interval." Sociologists and marketers use terms such as "baby boomers" and "Gen Xers" to describe groups of people bound together by broad shared experience.

This is important for two reasons:

  1. Our attitudes are informed by how old we are and by the generation in which we grew up, including the movies we saw, the music we listened to, and the world events we witnessed.
  2. How people experience communication continues to be influenced by age.

For example, many baby boomers who remember where they were when President Kennedy was shot vividly recall all those workdays before computers and e-mail (the days of the printed memo). Many still aren't completely comfortable with the latest in technology. Workers younger than 40 grew up using technology, and most master new channels with ease.

Gather the following demographic data on age:

Birth Years

Generational Cohort

Before 1945

Seniors (also known as the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation)

1946 to 1964

Baby boomers

1965 to 1980

Generation X

1980 to 2000

Millennials

Salary

Along with geography, age, and years of service, salary also ranks as an important demographic, especially when you're communicating about any financially based plans, such as savings plans, retirement plans, or stock purchase plans.

You'll want to show examples of how these plans would work for people earning at various salary levels. It's a good rule of thumb to show examples beginning with a number less than the low end of your company's salary ranges and then include numbers that can easily be multiplied for your top earners. There's no need to reinforce pay differences between lower-level workers and executives. You should show how everyone, no matter what his or her salary is, can participate in savings and other financial plans.

Gather the following demographic data on salary:

  • Percentage of workers paid by the hour. Depending on your company, you may have different levels of hourly workers. For example, retail employees are often paid near minimum wage, so their pay is much lower than experienced hourly workers at a unionized manufacturing plant.
  • Percentage of exempt salaried workers.
  • Employees in various nonexempt bands, from new hires to executives.
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