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How to Manage a Multigenerational Workforce

By Eastern Benefits, Sep. 20, 2017

How to Manage a Multigenerational Workforce

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Today’s modern workforce is the most diverse it has been in decades with workplace demographics spanning four generations — Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and the World War II generation. Even the oldest members of Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2014, are graduating college and beginning their careers. In 2015, millennials surpassed Gen Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, meaning that more than a third of  American workers are millennials. In addition, studies show that Baby Boomers are retiring later and staying in the workforce until their late 60’s and even early 70’s.

With a multigenerational workforce, it is becoming increasingly complex for business leaders, owners, and managers to effectively manage and support their teams. Each generation brings different perspectives, values, and goals to the table as they relate to communication, problem-solving, and simply getting the job done. Follow our advice to successfully manage your multi-generational workforce.

Identify & Support Each Generation's Strengths  

Each member of your team will have their own strengths and skills, which will be further shaped by their generational cohort. For example, millennials are typically technologically savvy since they grew up during the dot-com boom while Baby Boomers may thrive in face-to-face meetings and presentations. As a manager, you should identify and build on the strengths of each team member in order to create a productive team that drives organizational goals.

Open the Lines of Communication

Of course, to identify employee strengths, you need to communicate effectively and learn more about each employee. As a manager, you’ll want to approach each generation differently when communicating with them. Baby Boomers often prefer personal interaction or phone calls to discuss their goals & values with you. On the other hand, Generation Xers tend to prefer email and phone calls and Millennials will usually respond the best to emails or instant messaging.

Communication is key in business, especially when it involves a range of preferences. Ask your employees about their needs and preferences and communicate using their preferred medium. The only way to know if your employees are happy or not is to have a conversation!

Create a Strong Workplace Culture

A workplace culture that is supportive, inclusive, and fosters open communication will be crucial to the success of managing a multigenerational workforce. Most importantly, as a manager, you can facilitate regular conversations about generational differences and offer training on generational diversity in different formats based on the preferences of your employees, such as classroom, online, experiential, or interactive style. This strategy will help to build empathy between employees and across generations. It is also important to encourage employees to socialize outside of working hours by regularly hosting team building activities and company events.

Develop Mentorship Programs

If you have a multigenerational workforce, you’ll have employees ranging in age from their early 20’s to mid 60’s and above. There will be a wealth of business knowledge and experience in your organization that everyone can benefit from through a mentorship program. Older and younger employees can be matched up to share advice and even teach one another new skills. This will also ensure that critical skill sets and job knowledge are transferred among employees.

Offer a Range of Appealing Benefit Options

You can offer diverse options and plans for benefit and wellness programs based on employee age and needs. Generation Xers, Baby Boomers, and Millennials will have different goals and needs relating to their health, wellness, personal lives, and retirement.

For example, 401(K) plans and savings education, loan forgiveness, tuition reimbursement,  student loan repayment programs, and flexible work schedules might be most important to millennial employees. Generation Xers may value auto and homeowner’s insurance, generous maternity and paternity leave benefits, and childcare benefits. Baby Boomers may be more interested in benefits such as retirement education, reduced pre-retirement work schedules, and elder care benefits

Let Eastern Benefits Group help you design a benefits program that is unique to every employee, no matter how old or young they are. Contact us on our website or speak to one of our consultants by phone at (877) 542-7267.

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