Engagement plays a key role in managing and retaining employees of all ages. As our new research indicates, real-time feedback, socially engaging experiences, and mobile access play a key role in influencing engagement with Millennial, Gen Z, and Baby Boomer members of the workforce. And all of this can be managed more effectively with the well-informed and age-appropriate use of technology.
For HR professionals, it’s critical to understand the different ways each generation uses technology. By identifying each group’s unique skills and comfort levels with technology, as well as mobile adoption and social media capabilities, organizations can modify and improve employee communications strategies to address key challenges, such as low engagement, poor productivity, and high employee turnover.
Tap into the Largest and Fastest-Growing Segment of the Workforce
The Millennial generation comprises individuals born in the mid-1980s to the early 1990s. This age group has grown up with technology and mobile devices since an early age. They value meaningful experiences over products, are more idealistic than pragmatic, and are continuously in search of fulfillment, both personally and professionally. This segment (along with Gen Z) has gained a reputation for “job hopping” and high turnover in the workforce.
In 2016, Millennials surpassed Generation X and Baby Boomers as the largest generation within the labor force, totaling 56 million. Our study’s findings coincide with this, with 48% of the surveyed HR professionals stating that Millennials make up most of their nondesk workforce, followed by Gen X (25%), Gen Z (20%), and Baby Boomers (7%).
Additionally, 32% of the respondents said Millennials were the hardest group of employees to engage—considerably more difficult than Gen Z, Gen X, or Baby Boomers. Given these findings, it’s clear that businesses, especially those in the retail, hospitality, and entertainment sectors, cannot afford to be complacent or offer subpar experiences to their Millennial employees.
Companies should tap into Millennials’ intrinsic desire for personal fulfillment and sense of purpose. One way to do this is for HR professionals to leverage socially intuitive experiences provided by enterprise social networks and use these platforms to provide ongoing learning and development. This will help the Millennial workforce not only by improving their job-related skills, productivity, and performance but also by making them feel personally fulfilled in their roles and more satisfied with their company.
It’s important to note that although Gen Z employees make up a smaller portion of the workforce, they are motivated and engaged in many of the same ways as Millennials. Therefore, what employers do to better manage and retain Millennials will also improve those metrics for Gen Z resources.
It’s possible that Gen Z is the biggest source of employee turnover. A 2018 LinkedIn survey found that employees aged 24 and younger are three times more likely than Baby Boomers to change jobs. Gen Z workers have high expectations and want exceptional experiences not only with brands they interact with but also with their managers. Adjusting communications and engagement approaches to help Gen Z workers forge better, stronger relationships with their managers could be key to lower turnover and reducing the associated costs.
Influence Engagement with Familiar Social Experiences and Mobile Access
Another way to communicate with Millennial workers on their terms is to encourage them to share, interact, and engage with their fellow colleagues, teams, regions, managers, and even home office.
Results from our study found that employees are more inclined to use a communication platform with a similar user experience to well-known social media platforms. Through the advent of digital communication platforms, the Millennial and Gen Z workforce is more inclined to share information with colleagues and interact through messages with targeted groups and teams. Monthly contests and competitions can encourage employees to interact with coworkers the same way they already interact in their personal lives—by getting social, sharing, liking, and commenting.
Optimize Messages to Each Target Audience
One of the most important steps toward engaging more employees is to modify communications for each segment. Our study showed that 49% of HR managers do modify communications due to differing skill and comfort levels with technology. Using e-mail and an intranet may be effective in communicating with Baby Boomers, but nearly half of HR managers believe their younger employees want to interact with an employee communications platform that provides the same experience as the social media they’ve become accustomed to.
These platforms can be used to engage new young employees more quickly and keep them engaged. Encouraging social media-like interactions and delivering individualized experiences help new employees create the digital connections they crave and make them feel more valued as individuals within the company.
Leverage Technology to Effectively Engage Your Employees
Employee communications can be challenging, and it’s especially difficult when employee populations include different generations, each with unique characteristics, needs, desires, frustrations, and priorities.
Technology can improve the delivery and efficacy of employee communication. To be more specific, an employee communications platform can make the preboarding and onboarding processes smoother, improve employee-manager relationships, deliver feedback in real time, increase job satisfaction, keep employees engaged long term, and even reduce turnover.
Erwin van der Vlist is the CEO & Co-Founder of Speakap.
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