How to Create a Diverse Culture of Talent in a Multigenerational Workforce

The rules for business are changing rapidly. With the constant advances in technology and the growing divide in the generations of people engaged in the workplace, we need to find ways to allow this multi-generational workforce to come together using their very different behaviors, work styles and expectations to drive collaboration and change throughout the business.

According to expert data sources, today’s generational divide encompasses four different groups of people:

  • Traditionalists or Silents (Born between 1925 and 1946)
  • Baby Boomers (1946–1964)
  • Generation Xers (1965–1980)
  • Generation Ys or Millennials (Born after 1980) starting into a fifth generation called Gen Z

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While not everyone will ever adhere to the traits of one generation or another, there are patterns and findings from years of expert research and assessments that show more similarities within certain generational divides than without. These diverse sets of employees experience the workplace with different expectations and needs. They also desire different “engagement factors” from generational group to group.

  • Feedback & Communication Styles. Traditionalists and baby boomers respect rules and authority as it comes down the ladder and can be uncomfortable sharing and following information flows that don’t come directly from a manager. It might help members of this group to encourage them to work to accept a more linear decision-making scenario and to teach the benefits of agility. Gen X and Millennials tend to take information from wherever it comes and will be more willing to apply it quickly. The feedback for this group might be to find a balance between confirmation and validation of data with speed and agility that could have the wrong assumptions baked in. These lessons can help leaders engage the workforce in collaboration and self-growth.
  • Work Processes & Technology Focus. Traditionalists and baby boomers are normally fluent with basics such as email, but some still have difficulty (or reject) learning and adapting to newer technologies that are natural to later generations.Leaders should introduce a collaborative learning style where the younger generational group members become reverse mentors and coaches in helping to teach others how to best utilize these tools, building the knowledge base and the relationships between these groups of employees.
  • Work Motivation & Rewards. Traditionalists and baby boomers may have a more deep-rooted sense of duty and a feeling that “your pay is your reward.” Younger generational groups have grown up in a world that reinforces immediate and social recognition, and they may desire that kind of recognition to feel engaged and appreciated. A leader’s ability to implement a recognition system can go a long way in the engagement of the workforce.The very face of work – where, how and when – is changing, as is the “why,” which is moving toward a more purpose-driven culture that reflects the values of the employee.

Leaders should seek to understand the work motivation and rewards of each of their employees and flex their style in how they deliver these rewards to benefit the person, the team and the company.

MORE: Adressign multiple generations in the workplace

Kim Davis

Kim Davis
Kim Davis is EVP and chief HR officer for NFP, an insurance brokerage and consultancy firm.

Kim Davis

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