As seen on HR.com
Millennials now make up the largest segment of the workforce. While many companies make policies to recruit and cater to the younger generation, it is important that Gen X and Baby Boomer employees also feel acknowledged and valued. Incongruous multi-generational opinions about where priorities should lie in a workplace environment—for example, remote work practices versus on-site responsibilities or lateral versus hierarchical organizational principles—can create tension in the workplace.
To avoid discordance, companies need to unify the workforce engaging all of their employees, regardless of generation. The tips outlined here can help develop an environment where all workers not only want to work, but want to give their best.
1. Work/Life Integration
Life happens on and off the clock. While Millennials get a bad rap for focusing more on themselves than previous generations, their proclivity toward flexible work scheduling is less about self-interest and more about maintaining a healthier work/life balance. From doctor’s appointments to childcare needs, research now shows that flexible scheduling can serve every generation. Not only can an elastic work environment reduce stress, but also it can increase morale and lower overall healthcare costs. If your business is hesitant to implement flex time options, just consider the many benefits.
Organizations that create trust among their employees build the foundation for engagement. Trust starts with a clearly articulated mission and vision statement. This purpose should be echoed and reinforced by work habits and behavior and leadership should showcase this by leading by example.
Fostering an environment that upholds integrity requires honest and open communication channels. Whether through regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings, anonymous surveys or more general group discussions, expectations should align with actions. When all participants (employers and employees) are held to a clear set of standards and execute against these standards, employees will recognize that their organization values integrity, their loyalty will likely increase.
3. Flatten to Thrive
When a ladder exists, most people want to climb it. However, it is natural to judge people on higher and lower rungs. Instead, companies that flatten hierarchical organization systems thrive. This means that instead of regular top-down communication practices or distribution of work by job descriptions alone, a more cooperative environment is encouraged by enabling interdepartmental collaboration and allowing employees to take ownership of workflows. This practice can not only garner equal employee buy-in but can help set-up the expectation that each and every individual is responsible for performing to the best of their ability.
4. Everyone is Second-in-Charge
In the same vein as the above tip, every team member needs to take responsibility for how the business is running. Managers can make the coffee, the CEO can refill the printer, and the newest employee may bring up a better way of executing an older process. Organizations that empower their employees to act as second in command achieve balance by distributing workplace responsibilities. To set up this dynamic, openly discuss a business model that takes an “all hands” approach that revolves around clear expectations and rewards follow-through.
5. Loosen Up
A workplace that values and encourages free thinking will have a harder time realizing that goal if they stifle other forms of expression. Dedicate efforts to fostering an open and expressive environment—think business-casual dress codes, open air or non-cube desks, out-of-office meetings, more work/life balance initiatives and encourage employees to work off-site for a change of scenery—as part of a bigger effort to craft an open environment where innovation can thrive. By promoting a workplace that supports employee comfort and encourages self-expression and individuality, great ideas can surface to the benefit of the company.
6. Open Communication
Avoided conversations are lost opportunities. Whether difficult feedback or a simple congratulations, companies need to create the necessary channels for open communication. Today, technology can enable direct communication for regular business items—scheduling, tasks and timesheets—but extra attention needs to go into creating systems to sustain collaborative practices, regularly close feedback loops on performance and enable other types human resource conversations. One example is to hold quarterly forums for information and opinion exchanges. This practice can help reinforce that employee’s ideas are valued and build in a channel to consistently invite feedback.
7. Strong Relationships
Cultivating strong relationships among employees is the lifeblood of any company. A deep bench of talent that believes in one another and relies on each other solidifies a solid network that contributes to any company’s success. Creating an environment that encourages good relationship building can boost engagement, satisfaction, and retention. Foster collaborative habits by creating partnered projects and play to interdepartmental strengths by recognizing task-oriented individuals and deploying them on projects within their wheelhouse. Continue to cultivate trust, and the business will be rewarded.
8. Always Strive for the Best
Mediocrity is the bane of any business. If management strives for the best, employees will follow suit. The idea that failure is not an option, but a given can set up employees to try new things and learn instead of opting for the safe route. This can allow for more creative thinking, less fear and thus innovation.
9. Have Fun
Employees who don’t enjoy coming to work tend to not to work as hard as those who do. Encouraging a fun workplace environment is an essential practice to derive the best performance across age groups. To make work a more exciting place to be, look to the pillars of a healthy lifestyle including exercise, reflection, education, and gratitude. Scheduling breaks to leave the office and try a new challenging activity or volunteering as a group in the community are two examples of activities that can bring people together. Creating a flexible environment that values fun can strengthen and solidify worker engagement and commitment.
10. Challenge the Status Quo
Success is often determined by how a company advances. In caring for a multi-generational workforce, the ability to incorporate and adapt for everyone’s needs is essential. You may consider creating a brainstorming forum focused on new ways to do old things, or introduce a set five minutes of feedback time at the end of every meeting for suggestions. An environment that regularly encourages employees to challenge the status quo can produce creative solutions and cultivate a rich-forward looking workplace that is constantly evolving.
The Bottom Line
As the challenge of attracting talent grows, companies can’t afford to let their culture languish. The Economist recently expounded how companies willing to put in the effort to create and sustain a healthy culture reap the many rewards. The tips outlined here can increase engagement, craft an environment that promotes collaborative practices and reduces turnover for a better multi-generational workforce. R&E