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.
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?
#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.
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.
AJones/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).
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.)
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 andcelebrates 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'scontext 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.
#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.
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 aboutnew 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.