From Traditionalists to Millennials
By 2020, there will be five generations working together. In the past, there have been three or four generations but the most recent group entering the workforce has changed the way we interact in the workplace. Known as the millennials, the youngest generation entering the workforce has grown up in an environment that relies on technology. Because of today’s multigenerational workforce, employees have a wide range of values, expectations, and behaviors. A recent study on engaging a multigenerational workforce, two growing trends are an increased need to engage the entire workforce and the increased use of new technologies to communicate. Internal communication and HR leaders are faced with a challenge of keeping all of their employees engaged and informed, despite these differences in a multigenerational workforce.
Engaging a Multigenerational Workforce
By the year 2025, millennials will make up three out of every four workers worldwide, according to Time magazine. The changing workforce has led to an increased drive for employee engagement. Today’s business leaders must have generational intelligence, a term that came to light after discussing the challenges of managing this increasingly diverse workforce composed of five generations. Having generational intelligence will help leaders understand how to engage employees within a company.
“We see individuals looking for connection to each other, their work, and the organizations they work for. We see organizations focusing on engaging their employees and succeeding in the marketplace.”
Ginny Baxter, an Applied Knowledge Network Lead at Herman Miller
Building collaborative relationships can be a challenge in our multigenerational workforce. Millennials grew up in a world that relies heavily on technology. Information can be gathered instantly and we communicate using different forms of technology. For employees that are not as comfortable with technology, they may rely on older forms of communication to interact with others. In order to bridge the gap between employees with different communications styles and preferences, having a consistent platform that is easy to use for all employees can improve that disconnection. Engagement is more important now than ever in a multigenerational workforce. Retaining employees is a top priority for companies and business leaders should look at how technology can reach all employees effectively to keep them connected. “With the high costs of employee turnover, peaking at up to 150 percent of the employee’s annual salary, engagement and retention initiatives done properly will have a significant impact on an organization,” according to the Ivey Business Journal.
How Technology Can Close the Gaps
In addition to the growing millennial generation, four other generations are working alongside them. HR and internal communication leaders are faced with a challenge in communicating across generations. In a recent Forbes article discussing some of the challenges of generational diversity, Jeanne Meister suggests a number of steps for managers to communicate with millennials. For example: “Consider the medium; When training, don’t rely on outdated modes of delivery to develop your employees. Instead, focus on how Millennials access new knowledge in their personal lives.” The modern workplace is becoming more focused on social and mobile technologies. Because a multigenerational workforce may have different communication styles, managers must develop new internal communication strategies to overcome this diversity. Managers shouldn’t try to change employees means of communicating, but instead should focus on changing their own communication methods to follow the changing trends in technology and communication. In The Technology Gap in Corporate Communications, a study of 300 of HR and Communications professionals, 86% said a mobile app would be more effective than tools they currently use. By embracing technology, such as using mobile platforms, internal communication teams can better connect with the diverse workforce across all generations. Mobile apps are easily accessible, intuitive, and simple to use.
Communication Leaders Guiding the Way
Awareness is key for managers to overcome the challenge of engaging and communicating with a multi-generational workforce. They must be aware of generations’ communication preferences as well as their use of technology. Managing a multi-generational workforce can be an overwhelming challenge, especially when managers are in a different generation than their employees. Employee engagement and retention issues are often related to lack of effective internal communication strategies within companies. However, the changing workforce can prove to be a benefit to internal communication and HR leaders. Technology has the power to give all employees a voice and a platform for them to interact with each other. Mobile platforms are a source that communicators can use to easily share important company information across all generations.
Because of the growing multi generational workforce, employees have been increasingly dissatisfied at work. However the growth of technology can be used as a tool to increase engagement and satisfaction within the workplace. By implementing internal communication strategies that incorporate all generations and are easy to use, employee engagement becomes an achievable goal.
In a changing workforce, how does your team overcome these challenges? Learn more about how to succeed in our webinar recording: State of the Art Communication – Does your Internal Communication Measure Up?