Effectively managing a multigenerational workforce

Author: Huma Qazi, 17 Nov 2014, London

This abstract provides an insight into how humanising organisations can positively impact understanding and managing multi-generational workplace issues and overcoming challenges.

What does it mean to ‘humanise your business’?

This cultural change approach can be used in tandem with any business transformation, be it new technology rollout, mergers and acquisitions, a new business strategy or entering new markets and working across different subsidiaries, locations and joint ventures. It aligns business activities with how people feel in the organisation to drive results and meet objectives more effectively. By partnering with HR, Communications, Engagement, Diversity and Employer Branding teams it helps promote awareness, authenticity and incorporates people-thinking and supports change management to ensure organisations are geared towards mobilising people, their passions and what they value personally and professionally within an organisation to achieve optimal performance.

Why Are Generations Different?

Each generation is different and they have different perceptions. Each has been exposed to a variety of factors, which ultimately shape their beliefs, values, behaviours and ultimately workplace culture. Attracting and retaining talent of all generations is important in this sector due to the different levels required of skills & expertise, experience, fresh innovative thought and energy. Within this also lies the important to transfer knowledge across different generations and not have knowledge ‘leakage’ or cultural resistance with any of the generations.


A variety of influences cause differences

It’s fundamental to impact not only engagement but also as an employer brand in terms of openness within an organisation that fundamentally appreciates age diversity and the necessity to capitalise on the benefits of these differences as opposed to seeing it as a liability or a challenge. This people effect contributes towards meeting targets. When an organisation is going through change and needs to have a successful cultural shift, it takes understanding the components of workplace culture’s journey. You can’t tweak culture; it’s an intangible and a result of a variety of factors. With wanting to align an organisational culture that comprises a number of different age groups, ways of thinking and approaches to work and also dedication and loyalty, you’re challenging status quo. You’re looking for effective change cultural change to support existing teams and infrastructure in place, engage and help deliver with the right message. Some thoughts are shared below:

Communications & engagement strategy

Properly define, articulate and strategically align objectives and the purpose of communications from a people perspective, incorporating the cultural change journey. Communicate messages that are received as intended by each generation.

Influencing cultural change

Align what is being delivered in terms of any business transformation to be more about delivering work efficiency for people, being more effective and productive with time and engaged in how one delivers in the workplace.

The right language

Adopt the right language across all communications, so it reads that a change programme or new initiatives are more about people. Sustain the momentum of this language throughout the programme. Create the excitement. Dare to be different and bold.

Role model

Business professionals lead by example. They are the ‘face’ of the organisation and humanise the very aspect of what an organisation is delivering and looking to achieve. Ensure that the delivery resonates with all generations. Baby Boomers, X-Gen, Y-Gen all have different attitudes, needs and requirements. Have them tell their story to humanise the different programmes at hand. Create visuals to promote the transformation and integrate their stories and words to help the organisation relate to the change at hand and what it means for them.