communicating culture to a multigenerational workforce
By blake beus in Culture
Workplace culture is communicated in all the small interactions employees have and the daily procedures that take place. Today’s workforce is a multigenerational melting pot where it’s not rare to have a seasoned professional and a fresh-out-of-college millennial work on the same project. Many companies face a workforce with a mix of baby boomers, Gen X, and millennial employees. This bustling medley can be a challenge because each generation has nuanced preferences in how they work and interact.
A thriving, positive workplace culture is one of the best ways to bring employees together, but how do you appeal to a multigenerational workforce? Once you develop an understanding of your team’s generational diversity, the best way to bring them all together is to invest in strategies that communicate and reinforce workplace culture regardless of generational differences. Here are five ways companies can do just that.
Get Over the Assumptions
Generational stereotypes are alive and well in the workplace. Gen Xers might think millennials are too tech-obsessed or entitled, while millennials might think of baby boomers as too set in their ways and reluctant to try new approaches. The best way for companies and managers to combat these stereotypes is to avoid making generalizations themselves, and start seeing the strengths that each generation can bring to the team.
While generational differences will always exist, it’s possible to make them work in your favor. Seb O’Connell, an executive at Cielo, believes that generational differences can actually be great for growth. He says, “Younger workers’ enthusiasm for trying new things could be used to encourage a culture of innovation, while older workers can leverage their experience and broad perspective to help millennials understand some of the costs and risks associated with their ideas.”
Maybe the word “tradition” is a little grand to use in the workplace, but the concept is easy. Create traditions that reflect your company culture and support ways for employees to build bridges across the generational divide. Traditions have the power to bring communities of all backgrounds together, and that power can be harnessed for the workplace.
As Christopher Kelly of Sentry Conference Centers writes, “Look for opportunities to create ‘rites of passage’ for new employees, stimulate healthy competition, award prizes and celebrate major accomplishments. These things all give your company personality and are what people go home talking about.”
Connect at Meetings
On a smaller scale, it’s possible to work team-building exercises into your daily meetings. As your team members are assembling to touch base on project goals and challenges, it’s possible to use their time together to focus on more than just numbers and deadlines. If you and other team leaders can invest some time and effort into making standup meetings more personal and invigorating, your team members will find their common ground regardless of generation.
Derek Flanzraich of Greatist writes, “Each morning, we get together for the only mandatory part of our schedule: the morning meeting. We go around answering first, what we’re most excited about doing that day and then second, a silly question. (Examples include favorite children’s book, first pet’s name and No. 1 Thanksgiving dinner staple.) It’s a refreshing way to start the day and laugh a lot (one of our core values).”
Whether you have a baby boomer who is the early bird at his desk or the connected millennial working from home, make it a point to communicate appreciation for their hard work. Employees of all ages value their work being noticed, no matter if it’s face-to-face, email, or a short message on Slack.
Brent Beshore of AdVentures writes, “I make a point of walking around the office every day and thanking people for their contributions. It could be something as small as, “I really appreciated the email announcement you crafted,” or something more substantive like, “Thanks for handling that tough situation a few days ago.” Thanking them reminds them to thank others and be appreciative of what we have.”
Be Flexible and Open
Take a look at what your workers of all ages prefer. It makes it easier to communicate job expectations, offer the right type of training, or make adjustments that will boost a team’s performance. Be flexible and open so you invite different ways of thinking. Amy Casciotti of TechSmith Corporation believes that “different generations tend to value different communication styles, team structures and job perks,” and that “we should all seek out other perspectives [and] ways of thinking, and that includes others from different age groups.”
It won’t be long before Generation Z will start entering the workforce, and companies should prioritize their communication strategies to adapt for the long run. Make it a point to adopt to these communication methods and culture reinforcement so transitioning the next generation into the workforce will be seamless and positive.