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Motivating a multi-generational workforce
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Inspired by the upcoming talk at the CIPD Festival of Work, “The art of engagement – motivating a multi-generational workforce to enhance productivity”, we take a look at some of the approaches adopted by businesses to engage a diverse workforce.

Are you coming along to Festival of Work? Come and say hi to us on stand C45 and find out how we can help streamline your HR.

A multi-generational workforce brings many benefits, not least the pairing of new ideas and youthful ambition with experience and wisdom.

But how do you get the most out of a diverse workforce? And how do you create a working environment that appeals across the generations?

These are important questions for any employer or HR professional looking to get the most out of their employees and attract and retain the best people.

Let’s take a look at some solutions.

Understand your employees

Great employee engagement starts with understanding your workforce and the way needs vary across the generations.

This means encouraging regular feedback via a variety of means – engagement surveys, ‘temperature checks’, 1-2-1s, forums, etc.

It’s important to make everyone feel like they have a voice and that it’s valued.

Communication is key

Everyone likes to feel informed about what’s going on within their organisation. But internal communication can be tricky to get right, especially across a multi-generational workforce where preferred communication methods can differ.

Maxine Henry, HR Manager for manufacturing company, Elfab, cites a wide range of communication mediums as essential in improving the flow of information across the business and creating an inclusive environment:

“We display messages through scrolling TV screens throughout the factory and offices and we reinforce these messages via a monthly newsletter which can be read digitally or printed. We also engage a communication forum, where members are responsible and accountable for delivering outcomes, and we hold a monthly ‘town hall’ meeting.”

Facilitating communication between employees is also important for enhancing collaboration.

Instant messaging systems like Slack can encourage communication within the business and are often highly valued by the millennial generation.

It’s important to make sure employing new tech doesn’t alienate the older generation, though, which brings us on to our next point – learning!

Prioritise learning

Providing opportunities to learn and develop is a great way to motivate, engage and retain staff. And if you’re employing new technologies, you need to make sure your entire workforce feels supported in getting to grips with them.

It’s important to be alert to the variations in preferred learning styles that occur across the generations. Millennials may prefer an app-based learning module, for instance, whereas older generations may prefer in-person training.

The best approach is to get creative and deliver training in as broad a range of formats as possible.

Mentoring and reverse mentoring

Building mentoring and reverse mentoring into your workplace culture can be a great way to both prioritise learning and build relationships across the generations.

Older staff often derive satisfaction from being able to support and coach their younger colleagues, who in turn can help them grow more skilled in using new technologies.

Be flexible

What makes a great place to work differs widely across the generations.

As citrusHR’s Jane Mason observes:

“In my experience, the millennial generation are much more focussed on having a modern workspace that places a high priority on its carbon footprint and giving back to the community, this has been less of a focus previously.”

Different generations have different values and priorities, which impacts upon what they look for in their work environment, the company culture and their employee benefits package.

The ability to work from home, flexible working, enhanced maternity pay and generous pension contributions are likely to appeal more or less strongly across the generations, for example.

It’s important to think about how your benefits package might cater for all ages and stages of life.

Which brings us back to understanding your employees. Nothing is more valuable than consistent effort to understand what they want and what they value, and demonstrating a dedicated attempt to always be adapting to meet their needs.

We’re looking forward to hearing more on this topic at the Festival of Work. If you’re there too, we’d love to meet you. Pop along to our stand, C45, to talk about how we can help improve HR within your business.

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