by Charlotte Gurney
Workforces today have a far more complex structure than employers have ever had to face with before. Four generations are now working together and this can mean age gaps of up to 50 years and a whole wide range of different attitudes, and difficulty or ease when it comes to technology and innovation. Evolving your workforce to ensure that everyone within it is engaged and happy is an essential step on the path towards company success and growth.
Celebrate the differences. If your workforce is multi-generational then you have a broad spectrum of different values, skills and experiences within it. Different generations tend to be motivated by different things, and to place value in different areas. For example, you may have older employees that tend to focus on loyalty to the company and value benefits and perks while younger generations want to make a difference and are more impressed by work-life balance. Embracing these differences, as opposed to trying to make everyone the same, can bring richness and diversity to your business.
Put a mentoring system in place. This not only helps to ensure that skills are being shared across the business but also gives different generations the chance to connect. Older employees can benefit from the global perspectives and familiarity with technology of younger employees who can learn and grow from being exposed to the skills and experience of those who have been there longer.
Offer opportunities for learning, development and up-skilling. Give your staff the chance to evolve under their own steam with flexible training options influenced by what your staff actually want to learn and grow into. Different generations have different learning styles and this is something that you might need to accommodate, for example offering shorter training courses delivered via devices for younger employees. Learning and development can give older staff the chance to retrain - and help to improve retention in the business - whether that relates to industry developments or acquiring the skills to work more effectively with available technology.
Make sure leadership in your company is strong. If there is a culture within the business that favors a particular type of employee then others will feel excluded and it will be difficult to motivate the entire workforce to drive towards success and growth for the business overall. So, it’s vital that leadership within the business is inclusive and those in prominent positions are encouraged to develop individual relationships with employees from across generations. This will keep channels of communication open between the business and employees from every generation working within it, as well as providing insight into what the needs and values are of those who currently make up the workforce. Where there is a need for clarity the simplest approach is often to encourage leaders to make time to listen to those they work with.
There are many challenges when it comes to evolving your company’s workforce today. However, some clear-sighted and insight-driven steps can help to ensure that your business continues to make the most of one of its biggest assets: people.