Managing a multi-generational workforce is all about embracing differences. Organizations can reel in countless benefits from cross-generational collaboration. But first, employers have to understand how to connect and engage different generations of employees.
In recent years, there have been more generations in the workforce than ever before.
The novelty of this phenomenon can make some employers nervous and uncertain about managing a multigenerational workforce.
Adding to the dilemma are all the stereotypes that exist about different generations. Instead of heeding to these generalizations, employers need to understand where and why differences emerge.
Each generation brings something unique to the table, and it’s the job of your management team to help them showcase their potential.
In this post, we’ll explore tips and tricks for building and managing a multigenerational workforce. We’ll also look at the best tools to help you improve communication and increase employee engagement across all generations in your organization.
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What is a Multigenerational Workforce?
A multigenerational workforce consists of employees from many different age groups. Most commonly, the demographics that make up this type of workforce include Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z.
In the near future, companies will likely need to work with teams spanning up to five generations at one time. For this reason, learning how to engage a multigenerational workforce is of the utmost importance.
With ContactMonkey, engaging a multigenerational workforce becomes easier with the help of in-depth employee analytics.
See how your recurring and asynchrononous communications perform across different segments of employees to improve and tailor your messaging and programming to suit a multigenerational workforce.
Which Generations Make Up a Multigenerational Workforce?
Today, a multigenerational workforce comprises four core age demographics. These include Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Gen Z. In the past, the Silent Generation (born 1928 – 1945), was also included among these groups. However, this generation has largely retired from the workforce, just as the Boomers are beginning to as well.
Let’s examine some of the attributes that these groups are known for:
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Baby Boomers – (Born between 1946 – 1964)
Employees belonging to this generation currently find themselves in between their mid-fifties and early-seventies. While many are nearing retirement age, a lot of baby boomers are deciding to stay in the workforce. It’s no surprise that this generation is known for their emphasis on hard work, traditional values, discipline, and self-reliance.
Generation X – (Born between 1965 – 1980)
Now in their early forties and fifties, Gen X grew up in a generation of opportunity. They entered the workforce when information technology was just emerging into the mainstream. As a result, this generation is known to be adaptable, individualistic, and open-minded.
Millennials – (Born between 1981 – 1995)
Today, employees who belong to this generation are in their mid-twenties to late-thirties. Growing up in an age of rapid technological innovation, the millennial generation is known to be more tech-savvy. They’ve also gained a reputation for having higher expectations when it comes to work-life balance and flexible work. It’s thought that this generation craves more employee recognition and reassurance in the workplace.
Generation Z – (Born between 1996-2010)
The youngest members of this generation are just entering high school, while the eldest are at the start of their careers. As digital natives, Gen Z has made a name for itself as a forward-thinking, open-minded, generation. By the same token, they’re known to value speed and efficiency, while having high expectations when it comes to flexible work.
When engaging a multigenerational workforce, it will be important to pay attention to things like communication style, adaptability, and technical skills. However, remember that each employee is more than just a generational label. Different generations may have been shaped by the environment in which they entered the workforce, but there is more to who they are. A successful workforce means recognizing the individual beyond the group.
The Importance of Managing a Multigenerational Workforce
Each generation offers unique strengths that they can contribute to the workforce. To tap into this potential, employees and managers alike must overcome generational stereotypes and collaborate with an open mind. In light of this, effectively managing a multigenerational workforce is important as it sets the tone and style of employee interactions.
Managers need to be sensitive to the needs of different generations while creating a single, unified, company culture. This should consist of a multifaceted approach, whereby managers recruit employees from all generations while communicating inclusive brand values that unite their teams.
Conveying brand values effectively means having consistent and cohesive messaging across all your communication channels. ContactMonkey’s internal communications software can help you take the first step towards this.
Not to mention, you can conveniently navigate multiple communication channels and sending lists through ContactMonkey’s HRIS integration.
You’ll even be able to organize and segment internal email lists to target the right employees with the right information using the list management tool.
Not to mention it helps make employee feedback a regular part of your company communications. This way employees of all ages, backgrounds, and roles can contribute their opinions and ideas. These ideas are great starting points for developing effective employee engagement survey questions and employee engagement activities.
Challenges of a Multigenerational Workforce
The benefits of a multigenerational workforce are many: from greater employee retention to increased business innovation. However, if you’re just learning to manage this type of workforce, there can be some challenges to maneuver. Common obstacles include:
- Communication issues
- Overcoming negative stereotypes
- Managing a variety of employee expectations
- Creating a cohesive company culture
How to Manage a Multigenerational Workforce: 10 Effective Strategies
Managing a generationally diverse team is no small feat and you may have some curveballs thrown your way. But once you learn the ropes, there are many benefits that arise from combining a diversity of skills, aptitudes, and experiences in the workplace.
Here are some best practices to keep in mind when leading a multigenerational workforce.
1. Establish trust and respect
One of the most important strategies for managing a multigenerational workforce is building trust. Effectively collaborating with different generations leads to mutual understanding and encourages employees to value each other’s differences.
Managers can begin to build trust by having regular, individual check-ins with employees. One-on-ones create a secure environment for employees to share without feeling swayed by others’ opinions.
On their end, managers need to demonstrate active listening and encourage conversations around employee satisfaction, career goals, and work-life balance.
In addition, managers should encourage team brainstorms and other collaborative events such as Lunch & Learns. This fosters peer trust in addition to trust in management.
2. Encourage knowledge sharing
When employees from different age groups have the opportunity to share knowledge, it helps increase intergenerational learning. This is a key goal of managing a multigenerational workforce.
By creating mentorship initiatives or pairing employees from different generations on a project, staff will expand their ability to collaborate with one another.
3. Normalize employee feedback
While some employees may be outspoken about their needs, others will be less comfortable sharing. In particular, employees who started their careers in a workplace with rigid hierarchies may be intimidated to express concerns to their manager.
In light of this, managers should work with internal communicators to offer ample opportunities for employees to share feedback. Employee pulse surveys, performance appraisals, and one-on-ones, or just a few feedback strategies for managing a multigenerational workforce.
4. Align teams through clear expectations
Getting your teams on the same page means setting goals and establishing clear expectations. This is vital when managing a multigenerational workforce, because employees in their early 20’s may interpret things differently than employees in their 40’s.
For instance, if you’re implementing a new technology, make sure to send relevant change management communications across multiple channels. Do this instead of sending out ad-hoc updates over slack. Use your company newsletter to explain your company standards and invite employees to ask questions and clarify concerns. Outline employee expectations in your employee handbook so new employees can refer to it at their leisure.
These strategies for managing a multigenerational workforce will ensure that everyone on your team is working towards a common goal and purpose.
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5. Educate your team
A big part of managing a multigenerational workforce is helping your team understand the advantages of working alongside diverse age groups. When your teams see the benefits, they start to share a common objective, namely, to gain meaningful insights from colleagues of a different generation.
Once the goal is apparent, it’s easier to negotiate any challenges that arise. To begin educating your team on this topic, promote the advantages of a multigenerational workforce. Do this during your diversity and inclusion training, and by hiring employees from different age groups.
6. Use employee coaching to help employees grow
At times, employees may perceive that colleagues from different generations have access to greater professional opportunities in the organization. For instance, some employees may possess an emerging skill set that’s more common among younger workers.
That’s because opportunities for career growth and skill development have a huge impact on the success of multigenerational companies. These initiatives also prove to increase employee engagement and reduce employee turnover.
In sum: employee coaching serves as an integral part of managing a multigenerational workforce.
7. Work on your employee value proposition (EVP)
What does your company have to offer millennial employees? What about the baby boomer generation? Are there common advantages for both? These are important things to think about when managing multigenerational teams.
Creating a sought-after workplace environment and offering a range of employee benefits can provide value for all generations. Consider conducting a staff benefits survey to find what benefits really matter to your employees.
For instance, employee wellness programs, work/life balance, and flexible working arrangements tend to be attractive to all generations. Meanwhile, initiatives such as financial investment programs, or social events, may target the priorities of some generations more than others. That’s why it’s important to have a range of options on offer.
For a tailored approach, gather employee feedback to learn which workplace programs your staff seek the most. With ContactMonkey’s pulse survey tool, you can easily embed surveys into your employee emails. Easily measure employee engagement with ContactMonkey’s analytics dashboard and create more informed programming.
8. Optimize your multigenerational hiring process
Whether it’s the recruitment or interview stage, your team needs to do everything in its power to eliminate age bias in the hiring process. This begins with educating recruiters, HR staff, and anyone else involved in hiring tasks.
Equally important, is expanding your recruitment outlets to cater to different generations. For example, while job postings on college job boards may appeal to younger generations, more traditional channels, like Indeed, will reach more age groups.
9. Showcase an inclusive employer brand from the start
Your employer brand can attract or repel a multigenerational workforce. Even the wording in your job ad can discourage certain age groups from applying.
By incorporating slang, or using words such as “fast-paced,” “tech-savvy,” and “youthful,” you may be repelling many qualified candidates.
That’s because individuals from some generations simply don’t resonate with the language. Stick to more neutral wording and avoid terms or phrases that exclusively target a particular generation. Also, try to incorporate images and graphics that show people from all age groups.
10. Accommodate diverse working styles and needs
The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for helping workers of different generations work at their best. Companies that can pivot and adapt to their employees’ needs will retain the greatest amount of talent.
For instance, adopting flexible work hours can accommodate employees of all walks of life and generations. If remote work isn’t a preferred option for some, incorporating a hybrid workplace is a valuable alternative. Alongside appealing to younger employees of digital nomads, flexible schedules allow older caregivers more time with family and kids.
Manage Your Multigenerational Workforce With ContactMonkey
As the modern workforce continues to transform, your organization must be prepared to manage a multigenerational team. That means navigating varying needs, values, and priorities.
While this may sound challenging, by focusing on the unique attributes all your employees bring to the table you’ll be able to build success and easily prove the ROI of employee engagement to via positive trends in your workplace engagement statistics.
An internal communications tool like ContactMonkey makes managing a multigenerational workforce a little bit easier. By segmenting employee analytics, synchronizing employee messaging, and offering ample feedback opportunities, ContactMonkey lets you connect your people and understand their needs.