Mind the Gap: 3 Strategies for Engaging a Multi-generational Workforce

The 21st century workforce presents a unique challenge for organizations and their employees. For the first time in history, there are five different generations in the workplace. The age gap can span over 48 years between the youngest and oldest generation. So, the entire workforce falls over half a century. This means that each set of employees is unique in their needs and organizations must account for these differences in order to maintain a, productive, and engaged workforce.

Only 33% of US employees are engaged at work, according to a recent Gallup survey. The remainder of employees are either disengaged and miserable (16%), or neither engaged or disengaged (51%) – just stagnant. This gap can seem overwhelming, however, getting grounded in the trends of each generation, and focusing on “co-creation creation” strategy with your employees will serve as building blocks for your success. Here are our three strategies to engaging your entire workforce:

1. Listen to your people

To gain insight on your employee’s needs, develop a listening strategy. Listen for; What are your employees telling you? What do the different generations prefer in their work environment? What about career path preferences? Benefits and rewards? Listen through focus groups, crowdsourcing, Glassdoor, employee surveys, and “walking your floor”.

2. Co-create with your people

Business leaders and HR must work together to define what exactly “engagement” means to their organization and how to communicate brand to their people. Whilst it is critical that leaders understand their employee’s needs, it is also important that workers have a clear understanding of company expectations. Create platforms for ideation with your people, consider design thinking workshops and leverage the power of social media to gain ideas.

3. Follow through with your people

Once you’ve identified the needs of your employees and developed strategies, it’s critical to follow through with implementation, feedback, and communication. This is not a one-and-done process, but rather a journey that will require continued focus and development from all constituents. As your implement your approach, pay attention to further feedback from your people and develop an engagement strategy to ensure they feel their voice is valued.

Whilst the generation gap presents businesses with the unique opportunity to utilize the diverse skills and mindsets of several generations, it also presents a significant issue in employee engagement. Organizations can tackle this challenge by taking steps to learn about their workforce, uniting their leaders to define company expectations, and by following through with strategy, communication, and feedback. Alignment, transparency, and understanding between the business and its employees will create an engaged, and effective workplace.

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