A more relevant classification schema for human resources

Sayantan Datta
6 min readMar 28, 2022

We are in the midst of a confusing time in the history of people management; this confusion is driven mainly by an amalgamation of people of various generations in the workplace. And I think this is because we have been trying and failing for too long to classify people into an age/year of birth based behavior classification. What seems to be missing in this approach is a foundational principle. A job is not a purchase decision but an enabler for future purchasing decisions.

So, contrary to the standard methodology of classifying by marketing ages (NextGen, Millenials, etc.), I classify employee engagement and behavior into five categories, not linked to when they were born. And each type has its lure, handling guidelines, and value equation.

Let’s start with the stalwarts in any organization, The Old schoolers: These would essentially be employees who still work for a brand, believe in the culture, work stringently to uphold the values of the workplace, and maintain a book of principles that form the basis of decision making. To the Old Schoolers, the job is a calling, and there is a sense of owing something to it. Most Old Schoolers would be tenured employees who personify the organization. They comprise the workplace brand!

THE LURE: Appeal to a sense of something bigger than the individual.

THE HANDLING: Rigorous sense of morality and integrity with a frail framework for trust.

THE VALUE: Immense long-term value in upholding culture, getting things done, and being brand ambassadors of the organization.

Let’s talk now about the new breed of Money Chasers; we will call them Money Chasers 2.0: This is the bane of most management and leadership today and sits at the heart of the global Great Attrition problem. Compared to the Money Chasers 1.0, this group represented a broad base talent pool of human resources with a wide spectrum of skills. A very common sub-class here are all things prefixed “full-stack.” They are beginning to jump at the offer of incremental money. The Money Chasers 2.0 is a new breed, different from the Money Chasers 1.0 from even a decade ago. The 2.0ers here actually get rewarded in the short term and the long term, stacking up skills, brands, and valuation, along the way.

THE LURE: Pretty much anything that increases personal net worth. And the lure is not necessarily always cash, but the offer of stocks, flashy handouts (gadgets, etc.), etc., work wonders as well.

THE HANDLING: Needs continuous benchmarking for value/cost and cost benchmark in the market. And it would help if you had an ear in the group because this population does not share much.

THE VALUE: There is short-run skill value, especially when they bring in a critical skill. I THINK that the only way to deal with this population, and the next one, is to be ruthless; we should not try any make long-term career aspirants out of Money Chasers. Sooner or later, their cost will outdo their value to the organization, so it is crucial not to get attached to Money Chasers, 1.0 or 2.0.

Then there are the Thrill Chasers 2.0: This is the nightmare of large organizations that can sustainably afford high-priced human resources. Because these people get bored too quickly and move on, half of the time, they will move to whoever offers them the next new thing to work on, and the other half will be early life entrepreneurs. Having a startup dream is fast becoming a Must-Have in a resume! There was a set of Thrill Chasers 1.0, but back then, these candidates could be drawn away on the enticement of building something ground up, driven by a sense of legacy. But these are a dying breed now.

THE LURE: Something new. Something that your target candidate has only read about in college or, better still, in a magazine of repute (Time, HBR, etc.). Everyone here wants to be Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg.

THE HANDLING: Rigorous sense of morality and integrity with a rather frail framework for trust.

THE VALUE: Immense long-term value in upholding culture, getting things done, and being brand ambassadors of the organization.

The Offbeats: This is a segment that needs white-glove treatment. Primarily a heterogeneous group, they comprise people who have come into the job following a significant event or circumstance. The Offbeats can range from returning moms to people making a career track change due to unavoidable constraints. These candidates are generally unpredictable in how they will react and behave, as they take their time to teeth into the changed circumstances. The recently buoyant “Diversity Hires” including the spectrum of LGBTQ, also come into the “offbeat section”. They are an essential part of the organization, whether for a more appealing brand or a long-missing perspective on organizational decision-making. They are “loyal for the opportunity” till they are not! They are “happy with the work-life balance” till they are not. The “money is good” till it is not. In general, the Offbeats form the smallest slice of the pie but tend to be the one that throws the most surprises.

THE LURE: It is person to person and dynamic. And very event-driven. What would be good to have or “absolutely important to me” would be determined by what has transpired earlier on the same day or over the preceding weekend.

THE HANDLING: They tend to be an antsy bunch by their very nature and volatile behavior—continuous communication, monitoring, and ensuring that one keeps up on the perks.

THE VALUE: As I have mentioned, the offbeats add color and dimension to a straight-jacketed culture and thinking. And this is important because it introduces a valuable and profitable perspective to decision-making.

Lastly, there are the Growth & Recognition (G&R)Mongers. These are the people with whom you will most often, as a lead, end up having the designation and the job-description discussion. While I name them thus, there is no shame because it is driven by raw and unrefined ambition. Depending on the cultural makeup of the industry, now and then, there needs to be a designation lift, a leadership award, or a training program of value required to keep the G&R Mongers pacified. G&R Mongers is a plateauing breed, gradually titrating into the other four. But every team or organization needs one or many G&R Mongers because their raw ambition and continuous need for a story drive a lot of innovation and creativity.

THE LURE: The lure is very shallow. And more often than not, they are driven by peer conversation. Fancier job titles and designations usually do the trick. Sometimes, a country nuance is essential too in ensuring that the designation sounds senior-ish, depending on the background of the past generations.

THE HANDLING: There is a branding and framing exercise that is important. If you open up LinkedIn nowadays, an easy illustration makes itself apparent. Everyone is a Lead of their tiny universe. That specific branding is critical here.

THE VALUE: The G&R Mongers’ ambitions are what drives everyone into new thinking and direction. Their need for a story to call their own, and flaunt, is sometimes the source of innovative solutions.

All in all, it is crucial to classify people based on their behavior vis-a-vis their jobs. More often than not, the classifications driven based on Consumer Behavior orientated theories cause one-sided decision-making that leads to problems. It is essential to understand that “a Millenial is a Millenial” thinking is insufficient. There is sufficient heterogeneity within each birth classification to merit a relook.



Sayantan Datta

Born in Kolkata. Works for corporate overlords. Writes a poem, once in a while. Read a lot. Introvert. Published a book. Wife, no kids, loves food and beer.