When the next generation of workers enters the workforce in 2015 we will mark a new era of the greatest age diversity we have ever experienced in the workplace at one time – five generations coming together. This is a result of delays in the retirement age as well as workers deciding to work well into retirement. The five generations include:
- Baby Boomers
- Gen X
- Gen 2020
Is your company ready to utilize their collective strengths and manage them effectively? Each generation has its own expectations regarding the work environment, what is and should be expected of them and reward systems. Being deliberate in finding ways to accommodate their various expectations will enable you to take advantage of the differences among the groups so your company receives all they have to offer. Here are several areas to consider as you get started:
Engagement: Develop customized ways to engage different groups. For example, Traditionalists and many Baby Boomers commonly prefer pensions and company directed retirement options, while Millennials prefer self-directing their retirement portfolios. Millennials expect to be included in big picture decisions more so than prior generations and company loyalty is more self-interest led than in prior generations. All styles are valid and must be accommodated to ensure your company receives maximum benefit from their collective talents.
Social Media: Younger workers expect it to be a part of their job, while older workers may see it as a waste of time and may feel resentful of employees spending time on social media sites. While Traditionalists and Baby Boomers came to work with all of the knowledge they needed to do their jobs, many of the Millennials use the internet and social media to solve problems and find the knowledge they need to complete their work. Training on social media as well as policies about use in the workplace is needed to deal with the lack of understanding to bring the two groups together.
Mentoring/Reverse Mentoring: One way to maximize productivity and increase knowledge across your workforce is to connect different generations in coaching or mentoring relationships. The older workers can offer years of experience and wisdom in the field while the younger workers can teach the older workers about new technology.
Flexibility/Schedule/Hours: Traditionalists and Baby Boomers are used to an 8-to-5 work day in an office while younger workers are used to more flexibility with regard to hours and work location. “Regular” hours when the office is staffed may need to be altered or expanded to accommodate both groups.
Training Styles: Older workers are more comfortable with traditional training methods while younger groups prefer to use technology in their training. Your best bet when it comes to training is to find out what works for your employees and create programs that honor different learning styles.
Be ready for the new workplace by planning ahead and making incremental changes to the way your company does business. Contact us for help designing custom programs that will work for you!