Engage every generation in your workforce

Employee Engagement: How to Engage Every Generation in Your Workforce

The workplace is made up of traditionalists (employees born before 1945), boomers (born in the 60’s), gen x and millennials. With four generations currently in the workplace, creating an employee reward scheme that complements every generation is no easy task. So here are a few considerations for employers when reviewing the techniques used to engage and reward team members.

Identify Shared Preferences

Each generation will undoubtedly have differing preferences when it comes to how they like to interact and be rewarded, so how do you go about successfully engaging each group? One way to ensure all your employees feel valued regardless of age is to identify common preferences that all employees share. Educating yourself on the specific needs of each generation will help you to consider the issues that each group faces. While a one size fits all approach to employee rewards is unlikely to be truly effective, there are some desires universal to employees:

  • Respect
  • Opportunities
  • Progression
  • Recognition

These are just a few of the things that all employees want from their employer. Use these factors as a starting off point when creating your employee engagement strategy and consider how they might influence how you reward individuals and teams. For example, does your recognition portal encourage respect between colleagues? Do you offer rewards for completing training courses or personal challenges? Do you offer clear routes for progression? Do you use reward and recognition data as part of your appraisal and feedback processes?

Build a Bridge Between the Generations

In order to ensure that all generations are equally engaged, the company must cater to the needs of each group without alienating the others. While progression and learning may be the most important issues for millennials, it is important to consider learning opportunities across all generations as whilst career progression may be less important to older employees, the chance to expand knowledge is always welcome. It is important to be inclusive of all age groups and preferences as diversity is at the heart of engagement. It is your role to bridge the gap between the generations giving the traditionalists the opportunity to navigate the latest technology and help all employees engage with each other. Couple older employees with younger ‘newbies’ and encourage them to mentor each other or arrange exercises that will help to build strong team bonds.

Peer to Peer Recognition

A peer to peer recognition scheme allows employees from all generations to give praise to each other at any time which gives everyone an even chance of receiving recognition regardless of their generation. This makes sure that every employee receives the praise they deserve and helps to break down both inter-departmental and multi-generational barriers.
While the main priority of a millennial employee might be to learn new skills in order to progress and traditionalists are looking for health benefits and retirement support, there are many universal truths that apply to all generations. Much can be done with tailored communications for differing workforce demographics. Segmented communications can help you to engage individuals with the benefits, rewards and wider opportunities available to them by focussing their attention predominantly on what’s most important for their time of life.

Be sure to consider the employee lifecycle, from attraction, recruitment and onboarding to development, retention and separation. How are your engagement and reward efforts assisting you in attracting new employees? How well defined is your onboarding process? And importantly, how have each of these areas been adapted to the changing expectations of today’s ‘job-hopping’ employee? If you focus a great deal of time on development and apply the techniques described above here, you’ll be on your way to creating an engaged and enthused workforce, no matter what their generation.