With more than 50 million workers today, the Millennials or those who reached adulthood at the turn of the 21st century now comprise the largest generation in the US workforce. More Millennials are expected to join the workforce in the coming years, while the older generation such as Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers continue to age. “Generation Z” – those born between 1995 and 2012 – are now starting to join the workforce as well.
However, this doesn’t mean that the older generations are ready to give up their place in the workforce yet. After all, members of the Generation X now occupy senior positions. Baby Boomers, meanwhile, remain active players in the workforce with the participation rate of the generation near its highest levels in years.
Communicating with different generations in the workplace can pose a challenge to the corporate communications team. There are lots of differences between the generations and styles of communication each group is used to. The older Baby Boomers prefer phone calls and emails; the Generation X workers send text messages, while the Millennials are used to instant messages and tweets. Generation Z love to communicate with images, across multiple screens and devices
How to create a corporate communications strategy for a cross generational workforce
Having an effective internal communications strategy in place to communicate with different generational cohorts is essential in the modern workplace. Your strategy should take into account multi-generational workforce communication styles. Not only do different age groups have different preferences when communicating with others, they also have different preferences around how they like to receive information as well.
It’s important to acknowledge these differences and understand that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that you can use to effectively communicate with a cross generational workforce.
Corporate communicators have to think of different corporate communications strategies in order to reach out and effectively communicate with different generations in the workplacedifferent generations in the workplace.
Technology is a major driver in the ways that we send and receive information. Rapid changes in technology over the past decade or so have led to new communication channels being introduced… but it is important to remember when it comes to generations in the workplace that not every channel type will be preferred by the different age groups.
When developing your internal communications strategy to reflect communication differences between generations you should consider:
- How you can personalize your communications for different generations in the workplace
- How to simply and easily get your message across using different channels
- How frequently you should communicate
- Whether you have the tools you need at your disposal or if you need to innovate and invest in new ones.
Tips to communicate with different generations in the workplace
These are some corporate communications strategies that can be adapted in companies with a cross-generational workforce:
1. Use different communication channels
Most companies usually rely on a single corporate communication channel in disseminating information to employees. Some may strictly use e-mail, while others rely on traditional means such as group meetings.
However, using different communication tools is one of the best ways to communicate effectively with a cross-generational workforce. Making the same message available in different formats such as e-mail, instant messaging, Intranet, corporate newsletters, and corporate broadcasts would ensure that everyone in the organization will receive the message.
DeskAlerts, for example, can be used to overcome communication differences between generations and quickly deliver messages using a variety of channels to save time and money. You can send pop-up alerts to desktops, scrolling news tickers, corporate screensavers, wallpapers, digital signage and more to reach the different generations in the workplace.
2. Meet up regularly
While in-person meetings have become more and more difficult in a world where telecommuting is almost the norm, corporate communicators should still push for this traditional way of communicating with officemates.
In-person meetings are great for multigenerational communication in the workplace and can help people of different ages work together more effectively. These meetings can be the perfect venue for each generation to educate one other about their own history, milestones, norms, and culture. Activities that can bring in shared values of each generation can be planned for these in-person meetings.
3. Facilitate mentoring
This is one of the best corporate communications strategies that HR and the corporate communications group can institute in the office. Mentoring between workers of differing ages should encourage more interaction. Younger employees will learn from the experience and wisdom of their seniors, while older employees will pick up new ideas and fresh perspectives from the younger employees.
4. Consider a recognition program
Senior employees aren’t too old to receive recognition. In fact, they’ll appreciate an award for being productive or being loyal to the organization. Millennials, meanwhile, will appreciate a simple validation of their work such as an office-wide memo or even a simple feature in the company newsletter.
5. Keep them engaged
Keeping your employees engaged will go a long way towards ensuring the workforce is focused on helping to achieve corporate goals.
There are many ways to keep employees engaged. Conducting employee engagement surveys can measure levels of employee engagement, while also receiving suggestions from the workers themselves.
When it comes to the differences in engagement for generations in the workplace, providing regular training opportunities and career advice, on the other hand, could be best suited to Millennials who are ambitious and driven.
These are just some of the corporate communications strategies that companies can adapt in communicating with a cross-generational workforce. Implementing these strategies can assist in boosting employee engagement, and spur more productivity in the workplace.
Initially, the article was created in 2017. We’ve updated it for 2020.