Employee Engagement

5 ways to engage a multigenerational workforce

multigenerational workforce 2The workplace is under constant transformation.

This is due to the advancement of technology as well as multiple generations present in the workforce.

A report by CMS wire revealed that “organisations use an average of 16 SaaS applications (up from an average of 8 in 2015).” They also found that “employees who work for firms that make apps available and highly accessible spend 17% less time on manual processes.” Alongside that its also said that 75% of the workforce will be made up of millennials by 2025!

This transformation is surely evident.

This, of course, presents businesses with a number of challenges, from the difference in preferred communication styles; millennials are akin to instant messaging, whereas baby boomers are akin to emails and phone calls. To different management styles: baby boomers are used to operating within a hierarchical, formal structure as opposed to millennials who have a preference for more frequent and instant management feedback.

The challenges above seem to take the forefront of the workplace discourse, however, this diversity also presents unique opportunities, as each generation has new ideas, skills and experiences to bring to the table.

There is an opportunity to create a truly engaged multigenerational workforce if we turn the conversation the other way around.

In this blog post, we highlight five ways to help you engage your multigenerational workforce while improving your company culture and creating a more positive work environment - so let’s dive in:


1. Dual mentoring programs

The global workforce currently consists of five different generations.

Engaging with different people of varying generations to your own provides a unique opportunity to learn.

multigenerational workforceMillennials and Gen Z have the opportunity to engage and learn about Gen X’ers, baby boomers and traditionalists around topics like leadership skills in particular business settings. These learnings are acquired through experience and there’s no classroom that can come close to that.

The reverse is also true…

The rise of technology in the workplace has left older generations with feelings of discomfort. Without the willingness to grasp these advancements you could be putting your business at an unnecessary risk.

Millennials and Gen Z’s are the most tech-savvy and digitally-enabled generations. They have  knowledge and insights that can be imparted to older generations on how technology can be applied to help solve business challenges.

This worked well for consumer products company, Kimberly-Clark, when they identified that they didn’t have a big-picture perspective on their top talent. In order to solve this, they instituted a “reverse mentoring program” where the younger millennial employees were teamed up with more senior executives in order to help them understand what would best engage their younger workforce.

This sort of knowledge sharing environment - where your employees are constantly learning, growing and developing -  creates a truly engaged workforce for your business.


2. Technology

Technology is often seen as the primary driver of workplace transformation.

The application of technology in business has come a long way and has a number of benefits for business growth, namely:

  • An increase in collaboration - collaborative tools like Slack can be used to increase workplace productivity.  

  • An increase in workplace engagement - technology such as bountiXP - a South African values-based recognition platform, can help people feel like they are a part of the team, appreciated and recognised. The platform allows you to send and receive thanks for work that’s been done well.

  • An increase in workplace flexibility - technology is able to connect your workforce no matter where they are, whether it be a coffee shop in Cape Town or an island in Greece. Each generation has differing flexi needs, but by having the appropriate technology to meet those multigenerational needs you’ll be well on your way to creating a highly engaged and motivated workforce.


3. Learning and development opportunities

The learning and development elements of a company is one that’s been slow to rise to the demands of our transforming workplace.

Traditional training sessions are swiftly becoming a thing of the past, the reality is that employees only spend 1% of their time on learning! You don’t need us to tell you that, that this is far to low a percentage with a workplace that has become increasingly demanding on its employees to get up to speed and fulfil new, and ever-changing, responsibilities fast.

You’ve likely already experienced this and the question then becomes: what’s the solution? multigenerational workforce

Enter microlearning.

Learning for a multigenerational workforce needs to take on a format that’s delivered in smaller chunks of differing lengths and be made accessible in a variety of rich media formats such as video and animation and should also be made available on mobile as well as desktop.

Your learning and development opportunities need to reflect the age of digitisation that we found ourselves in, but also be readily accessible for any generation.


4. Work-life balance and flexibility

There’s a common thread among multigenerational workforces...the need for balance and flexibility.

This is often a key driver of motivation and workplace engagement.

Balance can, however, mean something different to each generation - this phrase does not only have a “work-family” sentiment attached to it.

It often means exactly that for a majority of baby boomers as many in this generation have older parents to look after and grandchildren they desire to spend time with. For a millennial employee, on the other hand, this could mean “me-time” or flexibility in where they work from.   

It’s important to consider what this means for each generation and how your company can attempt to meet these needs accordingly.


5. Meaning and purpose

Humans derive a sense of meaning and purpose by the things they do every single day.

It’s then no surprise that this sentiment is not only desired by the millennials, but by each generation actively seeking fulfilment in their everyday lives.

Each generation is in some form or another shaped by their surrounding political, economic and social situations. It, in turn, determines the varying degrees of importance they place on “purpose and meaning” in the workplace.

 

Key Takeaways

To many, a multigenerational workforce can at face value seem overwhelming, but reverse the conversation and you put your company at the front of a unique opportunity, one of embracing learning and diversity.

There are many opportunities to engage a multigenerational workforce and by actively applying each of these elements you’ll be well on your way to a happier, motivated and engaged workforce.

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