How do we increase engagement in a multi-generational workforce?
Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg stated in the Harvard Business Review, companies are bad at figuring out what their problems are and end up solving for the wrong things: “What they struggle with, it turns out, is not solving problems but figuring out what the problems are. What we need to do,” argues Wedell-Wedellsborg, “is reframe the problem. When it comes to diversity and inclusion, the real problem starts with language. Rather than using the word problem for diversity and inclusion instead, we can look at it as an opportunity – specifically a growth opportunity.”
Having a multigenerational workforce is an asset for companies and the difference between boomers, millennials, Generation Z, and generation X is that their values are more similar than you would think. As leaders, we can avoid falling into the mistake of stereotyping our workers based on generational assumptions. Rather than relying on stereotypes, focus on the individual members of your organisation and their personal preferences, values, and beliefs – and create an environment where people from all backgrounds and preferences are catered for. This may seem like a lot of work but in the long run, it will save time and money spent on staff turnover, lawsuits, and low productivity.
Trying proactive creative ways to bridge generations may include reverse mentoring programs. Traditionally an older professional would take a junior under their wing and show them the ropes by passing down their years of knowledge and experience. While this still has a home in the modern workplace, the rapid growth in today’s technology has resulted in many older workers feeling left behind by the constant evolution of tech.
Pair younger, tech-savvy individuals up with more experienced employees that are struggling to adopt new technologies. Many older workers want to pick up these skills, they just don’t know where to start. A reverse-mentoring programme could see them doing anything from updating and maintaining their LinkedIn profiles through to tracking a campaign’s online performance through Google Analytics. Renaming Mentoring to Peer-Coaching is also great way to remove age barriers or stigma attached to being “mentored”.
Collaboration like this makes business sense. Mature workers will pick up new technical capabilities that’ll improve their performance, and younger workers will continue to benefit from the knowledge and insights older workers have to offer. Remove age barriers completely by creating categories, topics or themes that people can assign themselves as coach or coachee so it’s a true peer to peer collaborative program.
Communicating with clarity and conviction of your organisation’s values and vision will also help connect your team. A basic and straightforward reason to be part of the team that expresses the motivation behind why you exist is your opportunity to shape a common goal within individuals. Discuss your motivation with your teams and clarify how it impacts your organisations’ targets, choices, and results. It’s additionally beneficial to adopt a straightforward and genuine strategy when conveying your purpose. Urge your leadership to also effectively and transparently share where the organisation is going, how it is performing, and the key challenges that lay ahead – this will keep workers feeling connected with the vision and be driven.
Including five unique generations to work together is no simple accomplishment, having a fair and true organisational culture and vision will rise above any technological innovation or new trend. Concentrate on your team first, offer them the chance to develop and create, and discuss internal messages with clarity.
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