Blog Post

Gen What Now? 4 tactics to transcend stereotypes and empower your whole workforce

Gen Z are insecure and cautious. When they’re not confident and entrepreneurial, that is. Millennials are entitled and lazy. Or tech whiz-kids, alternatively.  

Gen X, well, they’re nothing if not independent. Sometimes.

And those Baby Boomers. Change-resistant, the lot of them. Apart from those who aren’t. And don’t let’s get started on the Traditionalists. They might be loyal, but they’re totally out-of-touch.

Five generations in the workplace. Five totally different attitudes, perspectives and motivations.

Or not.

Because here’s the thing.

Different generations are born at different times and have lived through different contexts. But today, we all live and work in the same context.

And we adapt. The challenges each generation faces when adapting are different, sure. Like Traditionalists might work harder than digitally-native Millennials to get tech-savvy. But the context we adapt to is the same.

So the questions for HR become:

  • How can you best support all employees to reach our shared goals, to best succeed in the workplace today?
  • What talent management strategies will best empower all employees to reach excellence?
  • And how can you sensitively recognize difference without relying on generational stereotypes?

Let’s answer those.

 

#1 – Improve training for better employee engagement (and more)

 

Nearly three quarters of UK employees feel they’re not reaching their full potential at work, and want more on-the-job training. That’s not three quarters of Millennials or three quarters of Baby Boomers. Just three quarters.   

Then consider that a 10% increase in workplace education drives an 8.6% gain in total productivity. And 70% of employees say quality of training impacts their decision to stay with a company.

Better training better equips all your people to meet the challenges of their role, translating into better productivity, better retention and better engagement. That’s how you create an organizational culture of empowerment, across all generations.

So what does better training look like? We wrote about training tips in-depth here, but in short:

First, make it personal.

 

A Jones/NCTI study found that ‘training with a personal touch’ was preferred by all three generations they studied; Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials.

You’ll find a strong one-to-one mentoring program valuable but also look for ways to personalize at scale. The likes of people analytics help you spot skills gaps in near real-time, so you can pinpoint where training is needed most.  

So instead of lumping all Baby Boomers into the ‘social media training’ camp, which is time- and cost-inefficient, you offer social media training just to employees who need social media training (maybe including some Gen Z-ers, whoa).

Second, start early.

 

When 20% of staff turnover happens in the first 45-days of employment, it’s obvious we need to do more during those early days. That more is better employee onboarding.

New hires can take up to 12-months to reach proficiency because early training falls short. Add smart employee onboarding training and you get 54% greater new hire productivity, 34% faster.

And you get 18% greater achievement of first performance goals. And 50% greater new hire retention.

Start training employees from the moment they come on board, and they’ll achieve more faster and fit in better. And that’s as true for Millennial graduates as it is Baby Boomer executives. (Just check out this case study from KPMG for proof.)

Download this whitepaper to understand the business case for strategic employee onboarding. 

#2 – Embrace agile management to increase employee satisfaction and boost performance

 

You hear a lot about Millennials and Gen Z needing constant feedback, but that’s not unique to those generations.

Traditional ways of managing performance fall woefully short, which is why 92% of companies don’t see performance management driving much value. Again, that’s looking at the organization as a whole – not just the Millennial contingent.

The solution is agile, continuous performance management. It’s an HR buzzword you’ll have heard lots about, driving proven returns across engagement, retention and productivity for all generations.

(Consider that 90% of companies harnessing continuous performance management have seen improvements in employee engagement – impressive.)

Agile performance management helps you better align to individual employees, so you can adapt your support in a personalized way to help employees overcome their unique challenges. It helps you get the most out of today’s workforce without resorting to ineffective generational stereotypes.

 

#3 – Create a respect-centric employer brand to support diversity

 

Employer brand is vital to attracting, engaging and retaining talent - but how do you create an employer brand that unites five generations and celebrates diversity?

Recognize that respect isn’t a generational difference.

Gen Z might’ve been born into a culture of diversity, but that doesn't mean Baby Boomers are any less on board with today's context of tolerance that  we all share and adapt to.

Knowing that means championing a culture of respect. It means celebrating and promoting diversity. And when you do that, you achieve tolerance and ease potential inter-generational tension.

So you can get the most from your people.

1. Make unbiased people decisions.

Scrutinize your HR practices for bias, and consider HR tech that helps eliminate unconscious bias. Work harder to achieve fairness.

2. Create an open-door culture.

Give employees your total support from Day 1. Employee onboarding software can play an important role, building a relationship with new hires immediately and cementing your culture: cultureboarding. (Brush up your cultureboarding skills by reading our handy guide)

3. Listen to your people.

Build mechanisms to get constructive feedback from employees – and action that feedback. Show employees you respect their voice, as you ask them to respect the voices of others. 

Read more: 7 Tips to Build an Employer Brand That Attracts Top Talent 

#4 – Build a culture of flexibility and empower work-life balance

 

Workforce attitudes are undeniably changing, with the so-called gig economy growing year-on-year. Gen Z-ers have a reputation for entrepreneurism but the demand for work-life balance is inter-generational. HR has to respond as such.

That means insuring your workplace against mass-emigration by developing a culture of flexibility. That way, you can cater to different workers’ different needs, irrespective of generation.

And you won’t just increase engagement and improve your employer proposition. In fact, 61% of global employers found flexible working increased profits and 83% found productivity increased.  (Again, if it needs saying, that’s across the whole business – not just Gen Whatevers).

 

The most common ways of working flexibly in the UK, according to CIPD:

 
  • Part-time working (30%)
  • Flexi-time (19%)
  • Working from home regularly (14%)
  • Mobile working (7%)
  • Compressed hours (3%)
  • Term-time working (1%)
  • Job-share working (1%)
 

Look beyond the most common approach to flexible working – part-time working – to create a flexible working policy that can accommodate employees’ unique needs.

Leverage ubiquitous technologies like Slack, Skype and DropBox to empower your people to build a work-life balance that works for them, without losing control over performance.

 

The Multi-Generational Workforce: Personalize, don’t generalize

 

Generational stereotypes aren’t a useful way to think about the workforce. The echo-chamber of hype about generational difference barely reflects the reality, that the workforce consists, as it always has, of individuals with unique perspectives and motivations.

What has changed is how effectively HR can cater to those unique perspectives and motivations, to build an HR department that treats individuals as individuals.

Each of these four tactics talks about new HR tools and technologies that close the gap between HR and employees, so you have the time and insight to more meaningfully connect with your people.

Personalization, powered by smart technology, is how you transcend stereotypes and best engage today’s diverse workforce.

Discover how Talmundo’s popular employee onboarding software transforms your new hire journey, empowering every employee to realise their full potential with you.


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