Leadership Tips for Attracting, Engaging and Retaining a Multigenerational Workforce

Best practices to attract, engage, and retain a multigenerational workforce

The 21st century workplace is a potpourri of generations with traditionalists, baby boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y (a.k.a the millennials) coexisting in technologically advanced business environments. As the traditionalists and baby boomers – found typically in senior level roles after decades of service – move towards retirement, Gen X and Gen Y are likely to step into their shoes. While the former are governed by conventional methods of conducting the business, the new generation of young professionals with a zeal for innovation and a hunger for success are quick to introduce new norms and newer ways of working.Generational diversity – not restricted by age alone – is a key driver for HR to devise effective people management strategies.So how can an organisation manage talent in a diverse multigenerational setup?

Leveraging the demographic shift to achieve generational synergy

When baby boomers near retirement, they exit the organisation along with their knowledge and experience gained over the years. As the new generation moves up the corporate rung in senior managerial roles, a strategic knowledge transfer is essential to foster an environment conducive to growth and learning. Then again, the challenges posed by generational diversity are overwhelming and can cause friction in the organisational fabric –

  • Traditionalists and baby boomers feel the younger generation of professionals have attitude and commitment issues, and don’t show any loyalty to the organisation – their primary objectives being self-education and an obsession to reach the top in a very short span of time
  • Gen X and Gen Y feel the old-timers live in a shell of non-acceptance of technology and are highly resistant to change

Having said this, HR managers can still cultivate synergy between different generations by understanding the strengths and capabilities of all employees in the organisation and their individual perspectives on managing their own work. Managers should analyse the underlying values and principles that govern the views and opinions of a multigenerational workforce and bridge the gap between the generations by creating open platforms for communication.

Tips on cultivating multigenerational workforce synergy

It is obvious that the future will witness Gen Y taking centre stage in the corporate world. According to a 2012 survey, Gen Y is likely to constitute 75% of the world’s workforce by 2025[1]. It is therefore important to create harmonious workplace environments where all generations can coexist and work together leveraging the knowledge and experience of the older generation, and the innovation and technological capabilities of the younger generation. We recommend the following tips to attract, engage, and retain a multigenerational workforce:

  • Identify inter-generational gaps within the organisation and devise effective communication strategies to overcome these barriers, allowing each employee – irrespective of generation – to contribute ideas and thoughts
  • Conduct one-to-one and group mentoring programmes and knowledge sharing sessions to facilitate transfer of knowledge and expertise from traditionalists and baby boomers to millennials
  • Devise incentivised career options such as flexible working arrangements, phased retirement programmes, post-retirement consulting, etc. to keep the older generation motivated and enthused
  • Set up multigenerational project teams to enable division of responsibilities between generations, leveraging their capabilities to ensure project success
  • Conduct HR workshops to understand the basic values binding each generation and develop focused inter-generational leadership skills
  • Implement a robust talent management strategy to attract the right talent and keep them motivated with tangible and intangible rewards and benefits
  • Develop efficient and strong succession plans and performance management systems catering to all generations

Multigenerational differences are bound to exist in any organisation; however,this doesn’t mean different generations cannot work together to share common goals and values essential for the smooth functioning of the business. Forward-looking organisations are using generational diversity to their advantage by encouraging active collaboration and nurturing a culture of learning and growth.Good leaders recognise the behavioural and professional characteristics of each generation of workers and use these attributes to drive improved labour productivity and organisational performance. Following the aforementioned tips will help HR managers attract the best talent, deploy innovative people engagement strategies,and boost the morale and efficiency of a highly talented multigenerational workforce.

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