8 Ways to Successfully Manage a Multi-Generational Workforce

Demographics Ricoh Contributors
Mar13
Have you looked around your office lately? If you work for a larger company or organization, you are likely to see workers of all ages: a multi-generational workforce.

Today’s article comes from David Raymond, a Practice Manager for Ricoh Americas Corporation, sponsor of WorkIntelligent.ly.

Ricoh USA

Ricoh’s generational diversity council has helped the company manage a fast-changing workforce.

From the Baby Boomers to the Millennials, with Generation X and Y in between, today’s typical office is far from boring.

As a result of increasing lifespans and the mid-2000s economic crunch, many boomers are postponing retirement, which means businesses are being force to balance sage, seasoned workers with energetic, information-gorged newcomers. That’s presenting a number of challenges. But the good news is that this also creates opportunity for businesses, if managed correctly.

Bridging the Gap for Effective Workstyle Innovation

According to Jeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd, authors of the recently published book, “The 2020 Workforce – How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today,” today’s four generations of actively engaged workers “present the most concurrent generations ever in human history to participate in the same workforce.” In this book, the authors explore and even go so far as to mandate the need for every company and organization to actively engage in the development of tools, training, HR policies, and communication methods to accommodate the various needs of each generation, while also considering tactics for attracting the next generation emerging into the workforce, known as the 2020 Generation. Meister and Willyerd’s main argument is that every company needs to think about—and seek—future success by catering training, tools, office workstyle and innovation to both current and future talent.

So how is your company preparing for its future success?

Preparing for a Multi-Generational Workforce

Personal choice in workstyle and work-life balance have become increasingly important to Generation Y, Millennials and the upcoming 2020 Generation, so it’s important that companies plan and invest accordingly.

At Ricoh, the development of a successful multi-generational workforce is a key priority. That’s why we have built an entire corporate council, known as the Generational Diversity Council, around the idea of attracting and retaining the best talent, making strategic investments to foster a mobile workforce; and most importantly, striving to become a preferred employer for workers of all generations.

We believe it’s critical to be astutely aware of the changing needs of various generations’ business needs and workstyle preferences, as technology and innovation bring new and exciting ways of making information work for not only our employees, but our products and services as well. Simply put, better understanding your workforce creates a better company.

Tips and Strategies for Managing a Varied Workforce

To maximize the value and productivity each generation brings to the organization, it is important to understand the characteristics and values that are important to each. Here’s a few ways that our Generational Diversity Council has learned to better manage this changing workforce.

  1. Educate your management.
    Training management on generational differences and different work styles is important. Management should be able to recognize and adapt to these different types of workers.
  2. Facilitate mentoring between different generations of workers.
    Cross-generational interaction is important and helps build relationships in the workplace. Younger employees will benefit from the wisdom and experience of the tenured employees (learn how babyboomers can help educate millennials), while older employees will enjoy the energy and fresh perspectives of their younger counterparts.
  3. Offer telecommuting and offsite work options.
    If an employee has proven that they are able to get their work done with a minimum of supervision, perks such as telecommuting and offsite work options are extremely appealing to different work styles. Telecommuting is also a good option for Boomers who are nearing retirement and looking for more flexibility. It’s a surefire means to create happy employees, and happy employees are often the best employees.
  4. Cater training to various work styles.
    From employee handbooks and PowerPoint presentations to interactive, technological trainings, try appealing to many audiences with a variety of workplace references and tutorials. Consider lunch time brown bag presentations where older employees provide guidance for Millennials by incentivizing them to join the learning and discussion.
  5. Allow all workers to be part of the decision-making process.
    Happy employees are employees who feel like they work in a collaborative work environment. Company surveys, ballots or feedback are important for big office decisions. Open communication is crucial in company success and having a voice—for all generations—is important.
  6. Keep meetings efficient.
    Regular meetings can be good for routine, but make sure there’s a need. Keep an agenda and make sure you’re not wasting your employees’ time, especially if they are feeling rushed or have deadlines to meet.
  7. Make sure employees are recognized.
    A simple ego boost can go a long way and it’s important for every generation; but especially for newer employees. A simple “congratulations” can help boost productivity and help employees feel like they’re appreciated—which helps with validation and future career goals.
  8. Offer many channels for communication.
    Whether communicating on the phone, through email or the office intranet, offer a variety of means for employees to stay in touch. Texting, instant messages and even more traditional means can all be effective, if managed appropriately and all team members are on the same page.

Have you had experience with a multi generational workforce? What has worked well for you? We welcome comments below.

David RayDavid Raymondmond has been a part of Ricoh since 2004. As Practice Manager for Ricoh’s Output & Distribution Consulting Practice, David is responsible for the development of Ricoh’s consulting services, as well as the integration of Business Process Optimization into Ricoh’s Managed Document Services programs. He specializes in mobility solutions for remote and virtual workers, print environment optimization and post-paper strategies to speed up processes and strengthen data security. Prior to joining Ricoh, his consultancy work focused on improving organizational efficiency, the financial impact of unoptimized work processes, and faster implementation of business optimization services. He is a graduate of Penn State University, a Certified Change Management Practitioner of the ProSci ADKAR methodology, and holds the AIIM certification of ECM Specialist.