In most, modern Canadian workplaces, there are now on average around five generations of people working together. These, groups are generally broken down as:
- Traditionalists—people born before 1945;
- Baby Boomers—people born between 1946 and 1964;
- Generation X—AKA Gen X, referring to those born between 1965 and 1980;
- Millennials—"Generation Me" is the group born between 1981 and 1996, and finally;
- Generation Z—the youngest group, born in 1997 and later.
Since members of generations live through similar events and trends, they tend to end up with similar beliefs and expectations. Managing the varying expectations of so many different generational groups is a big challenge for today’s employers, particularly when you consider how vastly different these groups can be.
Here are a few tips for managing your company’s multi-generational workforce.
Add Variety to the Way You Communicate
To effectively manage your employees, consider their communication preferences. Each generation has specific communication preferences, and with so many generations of employees in the workplace, using one communication method isn’t enough. Your older employees may want to talk on the phone or face to face, while your younger employees might prefer a text or email.
To accommodate these differences, try to use multiple methods to communicate with your employees. When you need to let employees know about a new wellness program, for example, you could use emails, texts, apps, phone calls, and in-person meetings to communicate it. Using multiple communication methods is more work for you, but it ensures everyone hears your message and feels included.
Learn to Accommodate Differing Recognition Styles
Employees aren’t all motivated by the same types of recognition. Each generation has some general recognition preferences to keep in mind as you’re planning your motivation strategy. By offering varied types of recognition that employees enjoy, you can encourage them to work hard and achieve their goals.
Most generations are interested in monetary rewards, though the type of monetary rewards they want can vary. Older workers may be more interested in catch-up retirement funding, while younger workers may want gift cards or stock options. The youngest workers (Generation Z) tend to be more interested in social rewards, like public praise, than monetary rewards. Non-monetary rewards, like recognition from supervisors, can motivate employees of all ages. Don’t be afraid to ask your employees what types of recognition they’re interested in.
Encourage Personal Growth
People of every generation appreciate opportunities for personal growth. By providing these opportunities for your employees, you can help motivate them to better themselves and become the best employees they can be.
Personal growth could take the form of a mentorship program. Mentors can help their mentees improve their skills and learn more about succeeding in the workplace. It’s not just older employees who can help younger employees improve. Younger employees also have valuable skills and experiences to share with their older coworkers. This arrangement, known as reverse mentoring, can help reduce negative stereotypes about younger workers.
Training opportunities can also encourage personal growth. You could offer on-demand learning content and let employees choose what they want or need to learn. For employees who don’t prefer self-directed learning, you could also offer more traditional training with an instructor.
Remember Employees Are Individuals
With so many different generations in your workplace, it can be tempting to rely on generational stereotypes to understand them. It’s not that easy. While generations tend to have many characteristics in common, there are always outliers within generations. To effectively manage your employees, take the time to understand them as individuals. Ask your employees what types of communication and recognition they prefer, and try to accommodate those preferences.
Managing and motivating five generations of employees at once is a big challenge for today’s employers. By taking steps to meet this challenge, you can power your company’s growth and stay competitive.