When it comes to motivating employees, it’s important to understand that different generations have different needs. As a baby boomer, I prefer a more structured work environment that puts a higher value on hard work. Millennials often place a higher importance on work/life balance, timely feedback, and opportunities for career development to thrive in a work environment. In order to engage your entire workforce, you have to tailor your approach to meet everyone’s needs.
Generations by the Numbers
Pew Research Center reports that millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) make up 35% of the U.S. workforce, making them the largest generation in the workforce. Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) constitute 25% of the workforce, and Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980) make up 33%. Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012) makes up 11% of the workforce.
While the number of articles and resources available on how to engage Gen Z at work continues to grow, there is very little information on the ways to work in a hybrid or fully remote environment across different generations.
Here are five ways you can engage employees across multiple generations:
- Define the work model: By taking the time to define hybrid or remote work policies, companies show their employees they are committed to communication and transparency. This is especially important in multigenerational workplaces, where there may be a wide range of working styles. By taking the time to clearly define the work model, companies create a sense of cohesion and trust among employees, leading to better communication for all.
- Flexibility is key: Boomers and Gen X employees are used to structured 9–5 on-site schedules. But millennials and Gen Z employees embraced remote work and flexible schedules even before the pandemic. As such, flexibility windows with no meetings during certain times of the day or during the week should be available so employees can have the option of working outside of traditional work hours or working on-site if they prefer so.
- Communication matters: Traditionally, communications inside the workplace have taken place via e-mail or face-to-face. Recently, employers have seen younger generations engage and consume information differently. Providing different channels and methods of communication, depending on the topic, can ensure everyone is kept informed. Group text messages, one-on-one phone calls, companywide newsletters, and virtual meetings are all examples of ways to do this.
- Mentoring opportunities: One of the benefits of having employees from different generations is the wealth of experiences and knowledge they can bring to the table. Organizations should consider making opportunities for employees of all ages to learn from each other and exchange knowledge through mentoring and coaching opportunities on both a formal and an informal basis. By doing this, organizations can promote strength and empathy among colleagues, which can lead to stronger, longer-lasting relationships in the workplace.
- Set clear expectations: Setting and achieving business goals is a key part of any organization’s success. To ensure that everyone in the company is aware of and working toward these goals, it is important to have a system in place for sharing them across the organization. Managers should provide clear expectations to their teams as to how their job contributes to larger business objectives and have tools in place to track and manage individual performance goals. This will help ensure everyone is aware of what they need to do to help the company achieve its goals.
Ultimately, to keep employees inspired and engaged at work, employers need to keep their employees’ emotional and social needs in mind. By offering opportunities that will allow them to grow professionally without compromising their personal lives, and showing appreciation and encouragement for their hard work, employers can create a workplace that is truly fulfilling.
Jikku Venkat is the cofounder and CEO of WorkEQ, a technology company that helps organizations embrace new workplace changes by developing innovative HR solutions and resources that address workplace flexibility management, wellness, health, and safety.