Article: Effectively managing a multi-generational workforce

Strategic HR

Effectively managing a multi-generational workforce

Organisations must address multigenerational diversity and discover unique ways to optimise a mixed talent pool.
Effectively managing a multi-generational workforce

The global workforce today consists of multiple generations prompting the need to re-think strategies catering to the diverse organisational expectations. Research indicates that companies which proactively optimise multi-generational workforces’ strategies are better placed to achieve business objectives and stay relevant in the future.

Each generation is defined by different needs, wants, motivations, and goals. While an employee from Gen X could prioritise salary, value strong work ethics, and perhaps grapple with new technologies, a Generation Z employee could focus on work-life balance, contributing to society, and being tech-savvy. Thus, organisations must address multigenerational diversity and discover unique ways to optimise a mixed talent pool.

Here are a few quick and easy ways to further optimise the multi-generational workforce: 

Promote open communication 

The first step towards a healthy workforce is to build a workplace culture that encourages honest communication and aids in breaking down barriers between generations. Overemphasis on one form of communication may disrupt employee engagement strategies. A simple example is how the younger generation prefers to communicate via email or a chat message, while older members prefer in-person interactions. Thus, a combination of verbal, written, and digital communication is imperative for organisations catering to a multigenerational workplace.

Boost collaborative work 

Integrating staff members of various age groups and experience levels while forming teams to work on certain projects can help boost seamless coordination. This can also encourage creative thinking and the use of novel approaches to challenges. The goal at large is to change prejudiced perceptions that older generations are incapable of changing the way they work or that younger generations cannot handle responsibilities, thus in turn breaking generational bias. These efforts are designed to make co-workers understand that each generation brings something unique and special to the team that will benefit everyone.

Incorporate employee feedback 

While some employees might be open about their demands, others might feel hesitant in expressing their needs. Employees who began their careers in an organisation with strict hierarchies may feel scared to voice issues to their management. Given this, managers must collaborate with HR leaders to provide opportunities for staff to raise their concerns and feedback through timely sessions capturing the employee sentiment.

Expand learning opportunities 

One of the few things that all generations will agree upon is the need for developing new skills and knowledge to build a strong career. However, the leadership must recognise that different generations favour different modes of learning. For instance, older generations may like receiving formal training from industry professionals through classroom training and workshops. On the other hand, the younger generations are more likely to favour independent research and web-based education. Hence, providing employees with multiple learning options will be far more effective than focusing on just one.

Embrace flexibility 

Today many people are opting for jobs that give them flexibility like hybrid or remote work models to achieve a better work-life balance. The gig economy is also a reality that is being embraced by people and organisations alike, giving employees the independence of working as a contractor or freelancers while giving scalability and outside expertise when needed. These flexibilities are widely accepted across generations who are also seeking time to take care of priorities outside work. Thus, evolving and adapting to new ways of working acts as a huge advantage as well as a source of motivation for employees across generations to strive toward the lifestyle they want and gain the freedom they crave.

With the adoption of a multigenerational workforce, organisations are placing greater emphasis on diversity, equality, and inclusion. In addition to the moral obligation, diverse teams can come up with more creative solutions to business problems, making the company more prepared for whatever the future of work holds. 

Going forward, the workforce of the future will demand less control and more direction and guidance from their superiors. They will need tools/technology that will maximise their productivity at work so they can effectively allocate time between their personal and professional lives. They will eagerly anticipate working in an environment that is fair, respects them, and allows for a seamless experience, whether they prefer remote or on-site work. Being digital natives themselves, the majority of workers today anticipate that their jobs and workplaces will follow suit.

Thus, managers and HR leaders will have to bring forth a change in their leadership style to take full advantage of the multi-generational workforce and help their organisation reach newer heights in the foreseeable future. Companies can benefit significantly from leveraging each generation's diverse knowledge, perspectives, and individual abilities. Given the same, it is crucial to building a business culture that will help in utilising the competitive advantage provided by this mixed bag of generations. 

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Topics: Strategic HR, #GuestArticle, #FutureOfWork

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