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Managing the multigenerational workforce

by Natasha Nicholson
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According to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends survey, “70% of organizations say leading a multigenerational workforce is important or very important for their success over the next 12–18 months, but only 10% say they are very ready to address this trend.”

Why is age and generational experience important to consider? Rigid stereotypes about each generation can impede productivity, organizational growth, and employee satisfaction. For example, stereotypes like older workers not being adept at new technologies or younger workers preferring remote work, often don’t hold true for individuals, and can prevent employees from contributing their best.

Kantola’s Natasha Nicholson explores why it’s important to include multigenerational workforce considerations in your DEI programs in a new article in HR.com. She outlines these 10 steps to build an inclusive culture that values generational diversity.

1. Avoid making assumptions about generational knowledge, abilities, or preferences

While it might be tempting to simply assign attributes to people based on age, this will not result in an accurate picture.

2. Use generational research as one data point, not as the whole picture

Yes, there is value in considering research about generations—but only as a broad concept, rather than a decision-making principle.

3. Conduct research into your employees’ behavior patterns and preferences 

Determine work styles and preferences through surveys, focus groups and informal manager/employee discussions—addressing individual and team needs, as well as the organization as a whole.

4. Combine a mix of different people together to create a balance of team skills and experiences

The advantage of a multi-generational workforce is the same advantage that most any aspect of diversity can offer: People have different life experiences, and different skill-sets, that when brought together can lead to greater discovery, innovation, collaboration and productivity.

5. Ensure that teams understand the advantages of generational diversity

Once they see the advantages that diversity can offer to supporting individual, team and organizational goals, this will set the stage for moving toward a more inclusive workplace.

6. Educational training offers a source of enlightenment and understanding

To counter misperceptions and stereotypes, employees will need the kind of support that can be achieved through high-quality training, with realistic scenarios, nuanced behavior modeling, interactive participation and listening to first-person accounts to inform a new way of thinking.

7. Look at cross-mentoring as one way to build skills and knowledge across generations

For instance, people who are adept with technology can support others who are not. Or those who have managed through organizational crises can add perspective to those who have not been in those situations.

8. Promote all employees (regardless of age) based on value creation

Using a merit-based approach to advancement and promotions shows employees that their efforts will be justly rewarded.

9. Use post-pandemic planning to recalibrate for inclusivity and flexibility

Take this time to assess organizational needs, survey employees on their preferences, and talk with managers about team needs. Use this information to create a plan that balances individual and team needs with organizational priorities.

10. Bring your workforce together through common purpose and goals

Helping people to rally around a common purpose enables them to understand their role and tap into their special skills to achieve organizational goals.


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