Workplace Trends: Age Is but a Number

Elizabeth Faulkner

There are researchers who spend their days studying generations. They name them, find similarities and define their labels so we can understand each. We look to these labels and their subsequent traits to market to, manage and interact with each specific group of people. Stereotypes are formed and decisions are made based on these labels: Baby boomers are not technologically savvy, Gen Xers are pessimistic and millennials do not want to work. How do you manage these different generations? How do you maximize their differences and leverage their similarities?

If we take these stereotypes at face value and never peel back the onion, we are missing a golden opportunity. We are in an unprecedented time where there are five generations blending in the workforce. The key is to break the stereotypes and not focus on an employee’s age. Look for common themes and motivations to maximize your workforce.

Minding the Gap — Appealing to Talent of All Ages

Companies need packages to attract new, younger talent while balancing their older, more experienced workers’ desires. However, creating benefits, amenities and experiences that appeal to all generations can be challenging for an employer. Attracting top talent today is hard, but finding common ground proves to be the most effective tactic.

Surveys conducted by Sitel Group’s human resource department recently found that there are ways companies can attract and retain a multigenerational workforce. The survey results fostered the following suggestions:

  • Focus on soft skills training for employees — results will show in the customer experience
  • Invest in training for employees, which helps with employee retention
  • Model good behavior — employees with great managers are great employees

Regardless of generations, employees value training. They look for employers to provide on-the-job tools to effectively fill their skills gaps. While each generation differed on the training method, participants agreed that training programs are integral to their choice of employment.

Training is just the beginning; maintaining ongoing learning and development programs for employees is critical. Across generations, employees agreed they are motivated when they are learning new skills. The most desirable method was in-person training. Employees also agreed that online, self-paced courses were their least favorite, breaking the common stereotype that millennials have no social skills and never look up from their devices. Results also showed that leading by example was important to all members of the workforce, as well as the feeling of authenticity, feeling valued by the manager and being a part of something important.

Mix and Mingle

Workplace expert and author Lindsey Pollack has written a book titled “The Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace.” She believes that this moment in workplace history is unique and compares it to a musical remix. Best practices that have stood the test of time are being integrated into the modern world. This is the sweet spot that employers are struggling to balance.

The New York Post shares that companies like SAP in New York have developed Tea for Two programs where they pair unlikely partners for a 30-minute dialogue. The findings are used to improve best practices.

Online career search sites like Monster.com are including valuable content surrounding this multigenerational phenomenon. Sharing the benefits that each generation brings to the workplace encourages both employees and companies to leverage their strengths.

The moral of the story: Do not judge a book by its cover. Continue reading to find the book’s inner gem and share it. Find common ground and celebrate differences to create success in the workplace.

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