12 tips to successfully manage a multi-generational workforce
We frequently get requests from HR professionals about what they can do to successfully manage their multi-generational workforce and how to take advantage of the benefits each generation offers. The following tips are based on our experience in having advised several organisations on managing their multi-generation workforce.
Audit existing communications:
Assess whether your communications channels and styles are sufficiently flexible to meet the preferences of all groups of employees. Employ a range of communication methods that are inclusive and welcoming, and teach employees how to reach out effectively to their colleagues.
Offer flexible learning:
All the different generations want to learn constantly and expand their knowledge, skills and abilities to improve their own and their organisation’s performance and productivity. Yet, learning can take place in different ways and many forms. Different types of work also require different styles of training to master. Provide multiple activities that allow employees to learn in many different ways – such as, coaching on the job, receiving frequent feedback from one’s colleague and leader, mentoring programmes, apprenticeships, and use new forms of learning as storytelling, ‘group me’, games, polling etc.
Encourage multi-generational teams:
Assign employees of different generations to teams or workgroups based on their development needs, skills, abilities, and work style preference. To increase their engagement, communicate to them why they have been assigned to that project. Create a culture in which it is essential that employees learn from each other.
Encourage mentoring opportunities:
Institute a mentoring programme where older employees mentor the younger employees in technical or mechanical process improvement. Train the older employees to guide the younger employees – what to do and not to do. A well-structured mentoring programme has the added benefit of allowing unwritten institutional knowledge to flow from one generation to the next. This has the added benefit of knowledge succession should the older employees retire.
Provide multiple rewards, benefits and compensation options:
Recognise that people from a mix of generations have different needs and preferences, so design your human resource strategies accordingly. Offer a variety of benefits, flexible schedules, and an array of opportunities for professional growth and advancement. Steps should also be taken to ensure that HR practices are progressive, up-to-date, and comply with regulations and tripartite advisories. It is also important that HR professionals are adequately trained and prepared to fulfil their roles and add value to the organisation. With information so easily disseminated via numerous electronic options these days, any unfair or irresponsible practices within an organisation may be effortlessly exposed, thus creating a negative impact on morale, productivity and staff retention.
Develop meaningful training programmes:
Conduct ‘Employee Workplace Values Assessments’, foster experiential learning and personal commitments to avoid inter-generational conflicts to the best of one’s abilities. Inter-generational misunderstandings can be fundamental to workplace problems. We advise that organisations weave this topic of inter-generational understanding into their other workplace training programmes.
Raise employee awareness:
Build on the strengths of each generation and individual employee in your organisation. Make sure that mixed-generation work teams recognise the unique strengths of each member regardless of their generation. Help individuals develop their talents to reach their potential and contribute in their own ways. Begin meaningful dialogue and initiate strategies to eliminate barriers.
Raise Manager Awareness – assess leadership values and style:
As managers are responsible for organising, motivating, leading and assessing their workers, it is extremely important that they recognise their own preferred work values and work style. It is equally important for managers to learn more about the preferred values and styles of their employees regardless of their generation.
For example: How does Serena prefer to receive communication? How does Alvin prefer feedback? How does Joyce prefer to learn?
Engage every employee regardless of generation:
Every day, managers are perplexed as to why they are not effective in the workplace. Perhaps the manager and employees are failing to connect with unseen and unrecognised inter-generational barriers. As far as possible, managers should tweak their style so as to have the most impact when they interact with each of their staff.
Explore different modes of recruitment advertising:
Public announcements of job openings should take advantage of as many modes of release as possible. Boomers prefer networking, newsprint and search firms. Gen Y seeks jobs via the internet and keyword web searches. The more ways a job is posted, the better the organisation’s chances of securing a highly competent employee. Search for a candidate who has demonstrated working successfully with people from multiple generations.
Prepare for elder employees:
Employers need to be prepared for the challenges of an ageing workforce. In Asia and Europe more and more people continue working beyond the statutory retirement age or are confronted with the fact that the retirement age is increasing. What does this mean for your organisation, what needs to be changed in your current policies?
Support the Young Professionals in dealing with work pressure:
Studies show that this group feels the most work pressure and are more susceptible to burnouts. The mind-set of the Young Professionals is often unaligned with those of organisations in the current economic environment. Young Professionals have very high expectations of themselves to deliver value to organisations, society, and for themselves. Give them support in how to deal with the challenges they face, they are our future!
Looking for more support or programs to manage successfully your multi-generational workforce, or want a development program for your Young Professionals or Senior Professionals in your organisation contact us to find out how we can support your organisation.