Evaluate How Multigenerationally Friendly Your Current People Practices Are
The risk of focusing all your attention on one generation in the workplace, often younger employees, is that you may be alienating the other cohorts. The key to success is to ensure that your people practices motivate and engage all four generations. After understanding the values, behaviours and expectations of Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Ys, you need to evaluate your organizational culture and your people practices to determine if they align with the diverse range of motivations and expectations.
Assess whose values, behaviours and expectations the status quo in your organization is based on. How do your cultural norms – formal and informal – motivate all four generations? If you can’t explain how your culture, norms and people practices resonate with all four generations, then your organization isn’t multigenerationally friendly.
3 Tips to Analyze Your Generational Friendliness Quotient
- Analyze the current language in your recruitment materials, offer letters, program announcements, employee newsletters – what type of language and which words are being used? What is the underlying meaning? How can you incorporate key messages that resonate with all four generations?
- Analyze your engagement results along generational lines. Often there is a discrepancy in the way the different generations answer engagement survey questions, because they interpret the questions differently. For example, ‘does your manager provide frequent feedback to you?’ – the word frequent means something different to a Baby Boomer than it does to a Gen Y. While a Baby Boomer might think frequently is receiving quarterly feedback, the Gen Y may only perceive daily feedback as frequent enough.
- Conduct focus groups. Gather a group of leaders who have been educated on the values, behaviours and expectations of all four generations. Ask them to evaluate your organizational culture and practices to determine which generational perspective dominates. Compare this evaluation with your engagement score data. Keep in mind, that while you may no longer have Traditionalists in your workforce, their values and expectations may still shape your organizational culture. In one organization, the leaders, who were all Gen Xers, realized that they behave and expect to be treated according to Gen X values, but that they lead the company just like Traditionalists. Another senior group thought that their culture was very Gen Y driven, given that the largest number of employees were Gen Ys. However, when they evaluated their engagement data, they discovered that it was the Baby Boomers who were the most satisfied since most programs in the organization were designed to meet Baby Boomer values.
Use Organizational Engagement to Get It Right
Once your analysis is complete, you may discover that you do have all the programs and practices needed to appeal to a multigenerational workforce, but that you haven’t been consistently executing those programs. When building or executing HR programs, we encourage you to use our model of organizational engagement. This framework, allows you to ensure that your people practices are transparent, responsive and partnering.
Transparent means that an organization and its leaders are open, honest and forthcoming with information. Their motives and intentions are obvious. A transparent organization shares information with all levels within the organization and highlights how individual roles, responsibilities and/or accountabilities are impacted.
Responsive requires that an organization actively listen to its employee groups and be committed to taking action in a timely manner. A responsive organization communicates what it can and cannot do to meet employee expectations and proactively manages expectations.
Partnering means that an organization recognizes that employees are equal partners and investors in the organization. It seeks a win-win relationship with all its employee groups. An organization that partners with employees has leaders and managers who view themselves as part of the team, not outside of it.
- How can we be more transparent during the recruitment process?
- How can we make our orientation program more responsive new employee expectations?
- What actions do we need to take to ensure leaders demonstrate partnering behaviours with their teams?
- How can we build a succession planning process that is transparent about our needs, responsive to employees’ questions, and takes a win-win approach?
By using the model of organizational engagement – transparent, responsive, partnering – you will be able to build, communicate and execute programs that enhance how friendly your organization is to all four generations.
As president and co-founder of n-gen People Performance Inc., Giselle is dedicated to building strategies and programs that target, motivate and engage a multigenerational workforce. She is a sought after resource to industry leaders, having worked with 18 of the top Fortune 500 companies. Over 60,000 people globally have experienced an n-gen workshop or presentation. She has devoted more than fifteen years to researching the impact that generational differences have on organizational performance. Giselle has co-authored two books: Loyalty Unplugged: How to Get, Keep & Grow All Four Generations and Upgrade Now: 9 Advanced Leadership Skills. She has a Master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Windsor.