Today’s global workforce is multi-generational, resulting in the need to rethink strategies that meet the organization’s diverse expectations. Research shows that companies that proactively optimize strategies for an intergenerational workforce are better positioned to meet business goals and stay relevant in the future.
Each generation is defined by different needs, desires, motivations and goals. While a Gen X employee might prioritize salary, value a strong work ethic, and perhaps explore new technologies, a Gen Z employee might focus on work-life balance, contribute to society, and be tech-savvy. As such, companies must address multigenerational diversity and find unique ways to optimize a mixed talent pool.
Here are some quick and easy ways to further optimize the multigenerational workforce:
Encourage open communication
The first step to a healthy workforce is building a workplace culture that encourages honest communication and helps break down barriers between generations. Overemphasizing one form of communication can disrupt employee retention strategies. A simple example is how the younger generation prefers to communicate via email or chat message, while older members prefer face-to-face interactions. Therefore, a combination of oral, written and digital communication is essential for organizations geared towards a multi-generational workplace.
Incorporating employees of different ages and experience levels into forming teams to work on specific projects can help promote seamless coordination. This can also encourage creative thinking and the use of novel approaches to challenges. The overall goal is to change biased perceptions that older generations are unable to change the way they work or that younger generations are unable to handle responsibilities, which in turn reduces generational bias. These efforts are designed to help employees understand that each generation brings something unique and special to the team that benefits everyone.
Integrate employee feedback
While some employees are open about their demands, others are reluctant to voice their needs. Employees who started their careers in a company with strict hierarchies may be afraid to raise issues with their management. With this in mind, managers need to work with HR leaders to provide opportunities for employees to voice their concerns and feedback through timely sessions that capture employee sentiment.
expand learning opportunities
One of the few things that all generations will agree on is the need to develop new skills and knowledge in order to build a strong career. However, leadership must recognize that different generations prefer different learning methods. For example, older generations may wish to receive formal training from industry experts through classroom training and workshops. On the other hand, the younger generations tend to prefer independent research and web-based education. Therefore, offering employees multiple learning options is far more effective than focusing on just one.
Today, many people are choosing jobs that offer them flexibility, such as hybrid or remote working models, to achieve a better work-life balance. The gig economy is also a reality that is being embraced by people and organizations alike, giving employees the independence to work as contractors or freelancers while offering scalability and outside expertise when needed. This flexibility is accepted across generations who also seek time to attend to priorities outside of work. Therefore, evolving and adapting to new ways of working is both a great benefit and a source of motivation for employees of all generations to strive for the lifestyle and gain the freedom they desire.
With the adoption of a multi-generational workforce, organizations are placing greater emphasis on diversity, equality and inclusion. In addition to the moral obligation, diverse teams can find more creative solutions to business problems, better preparing the organization for the future of work.
Moving forward, the workforce of the future will demand less control and more direction and leadership from their managers. They need tools/technology that maximize their productivity at work so they can effectively balance time between work and personal life. They will eagerly await working in an environment that is fair, respectful and provides a seamless experience, whether they prefer remote or on-site work. The majority of workers today, who are themselves digital natives, expect their jobs and workplaces to follow suit.
Therefore, managers and HR leaders must change their leadership style to take full advantage of the multi-generational workforce and help their organization reach new heights in the foreseeable future. Businesses can benefit significantly from leveraging the diverse knowledge, perspectives, and individual skills of each generation. Given this, it is crucial to build a corporate culture that helps leverage the competitive advantage that this mixed mix of generations offers.
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