Tips for a Streamlined Workforce
If you follow some of these tips for dealing with a cross-generational workforce, you’ll soon have a streamlined, energetic and productive team:
Understand Them – This is the key to every element of your workforce. You need to understand the needs, wants, work styles and abilities of your employees—no matter what age group they fall in. By quietly monitoring your employees and encouraging good communication and interaction skills, you will soon develop a good working knowledge of each type.
Listen to Them – Gen Y and X don’t want to use the phone (unless it’s a smartphone) to communicate. They want new technology, flexible working hours and are pretty determined to get what they want. The Traditionalists and Baby Boomers might be comfortable with the way things are and often need encouraged to be all they can be. Are you listening to their wants and needs? If not, you’ll have a chaotic workforce. Listening to, analyzing and implementing suggestions from every generation is a must.
Emphasize Skills – Every employee will have different skills. The Traditionalist, for example, may find his way of the sales pitch always works and has been working for years, so why reinvent the wheel? Those with tried-and-true techniques and skills can be valuable leaders to those seeking help: Use the skills of these types of employees to guide others. This can work both ways. Gen Y and X can help Traditionalists learn the world of technology they may not be comfortable with.
Coaxing – Often as the business owner dealing with a cross-generational workforce, you may need to offer up a little coaxing to get what you want. Those entry-level Gen X or Y workers may frown at working alongside a Traditionalist. Show each age group the value of what other age groups have to offer. Be specific. If Traditionalist Sam has achieved every company or industry award, tell the team how he did it—they can learn via a little coaxing.
Benefit Challenges – The Baby Boomers and Traditionalists want good healthcare and retirement benefits where the younger crowd may not consider their current job—their career or ideal job. Benefit challenges are another cross-generational workforce issue that must be dealt with on a group basis. If you can, offer more than one type of healthcare policy—full coverage with low deductibles is often best for the older crowd where the younger group may want only the bare basics of a plan. Be diverse in your benefit plan and ask your benefits administrator for help on this.
Along with these basics, there are other things to keep in mind with a multi-generational workforce. We’ll look at some additional elements on Page 2.