Bridging the gap: how to keep a multigenerational workforce motivated

generations at work

An interesting phenomenon has organizations around the world navigating all kinds of change, and, in some cases, challenges: that is, the amalgamation of at least four generations that now make up the multigenerational global workforce.

According to Statista, the workforce around the world will be made up as follows by 2020:

  • 6% Baby Boomers
  • 35% Gen X
  • 35% Millennials
  • 24% Gen Z

Naturally, every generation steps up to the plate with the aim of doing things better than the generation before – and of course, each group tends to think uniquely and does things quite differently than its predecessors.

Below, we take a quick look at some of the characteristics that are typically associated with each generation mentioned above.

Baby Boomers

  • Born between 1946 and 1964.
  • This generation has accumulated a great deal of industry (and quite possibly company) knowledge and experience, and are known for their hard work.
  • Taking this into consideration, this generation will most likely feel motivated when their expertise is valued, and their input is recognized and taken into consideration.
  • They may be less open to change and less tech savvy than other generations, but these individuals would still add great value to others and your organizations through mentorships.

Gen X

  • Born between 1965 and 1980.
  • Gen X-ers are known to be resourceful, confident in their ability to work quickly and independently.
  • This generation is motivated by the freedom to be autonomous and to pursue growth opportunities. They also tend to value family time and will balance that with their work.

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  • Born between 1981 and 1996.
  • Millennials grew up in the Information Age and are familiar with and comfortable using digital technologies, as well as social media.
  • Millennials thrive when they’re given the chance to work independently, to share their concepts, and to contribute to the organization.
  • This generation is driven by purpose and the opportunity to grow their skills, and can be impatient when it comes to their career advancement.

Gen Z

  • Born between 1997 and 2015 (approximately).
  • This generation doesn’t know life without technology so they’re dependent on it and are described as ‘always on’. They’re also quick to adapt and can be entrepreneurial by nature. They further tend to voice social causes, especially online.
  • Without much work experience just yet, these employees still want their potential and their skills or talents to be recognized.

So, with such disparities, how do you bridge the gap and encourage a multigenerational workforce to work collaboratively towards the same goal, in an efficient way?

Here are some tips to follow when managing multiple generations at work:

1. Recognize the similarities

As different as each generation may be, there are still similarities between them; common ground that organizations can focus on to keep a diverse workforce motivated.

All employees need to know what they’re working towards. What are your company’s goals? How can each individual contribute towards reaching those aims? Remember, employees are driven by a sense of purpose, so they want to know that they’re adding value to your organization, and that their work is likewise valued. They want to be involved, to make a difference and to feel part of the company’s culture – this encourages employee engagement.

Similarly, it’s a safe bet to say that all employees want some degree of work-life balance. Regardless of which generation a person was born into, we’re all exposed to a rapidly evolving world which arguably demands more attention than ever before. In essence, all generations are faced with new pressures and stresses – and everyone needs a break from time to time. It’s important to encourage employee wellbeing, and a balance between employees’ work and private lives.

Since every organization is unique, it’s worth the effort to identify commonalities that you know would be appreciated by everyone in your multigenerational workforce and weave the appropriate opportunities and support into your company culture. Keep this in mind when hiring new employees too, to ensure that they’ll be a good fit in your company.

2. Focus on the individual

While there are some characteristics that might be typical of a certain generation, it’s important not to box individuals into any stereotype – this will likely only reinforce generational divides. And, a focus on the individual is particularly relevant in today’s work climate, where many employees crave the opportunity to work autonomously, and with the freedom to express their unique and innovative ideas.

With advanced software, it has become all the more feasible to personalize experiences throughout the employee lifecycle, from integration and feedback to professional development. This allows employers to recognize where employees might need support, or to identify their top performers and give personalized recognition where it is due.

This personalized approach has the potential to boost morale and foster a sense of loyalty among employees, improving retention at your organization.

3. Encourage mentorship

Even though one generation might think differently to another, there’s always some level of wisdom to glean from those with more experience. One of the ways to facilitate this transfer of knowledge and to encourage rapport between individuals in a multigenerational workforce is by prompting or supporting mentorships within your organization.

Mentorship is an invaluable ‘method’ by which a seasoned professional can guide another employee with less experience, showing them the ropes and helping them learn new skills, or even advance in their career. Read our blog on mentorships to learn more.

4. Use technology to support your efforts

Fortunately, managing and motivating various generations at work doesn’t have to be done based on intuition. There are modern HR tools, like ours, available today that help you attract, manage, advance and retain talent of all ages.

As mentioned earlier, with the right technology, you’ll be able to recruit individuals who are likely to be a good fit with your organizational culture and integrate those individuals into your company effectively, so new hires don’t slip through the cracks.

Further, with real-time feedback and performance management functionalities, you’ll be able to manage performance in alignment with your company’s objectives and offer instant feedback to employees. You’ll also be able to drive purpose by offering opportunities for employees to contribute meaningfully and innovatively via internal gigs, or to grow via learning opportunities made available via intelligent software.

You might also like: Looking to 2020 and beyond – the future of talent management tools

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