Throughout the latter part of the 20th century, the workplace was based on largely rigid, hierarchical systems that demanded a respect for authority and strictly dictated working styles, hours and promotional structures. This was a direct result of soldiers leaving active duty in the aftermath of World War II, integrating into civilian life, and creating organizational structures based on their experience in the armed forces. As the Baby Boomer generation begins to leave the workforce and younger generations have more influence, these old structures and rigid rules are beginning to soften with the new expectations that younger workers bring. However, this creates challenges for organizations looking to navigate multi generational workforce training.
And, as younger generations continue to constitute a larger portion of the workforce, policies will continue to change to keep pace with what these employees demand from their employers. 73% of Gen Z employees are looking for flexible work environments and 77% want to work for a company whose values align with their own.
At the same time, there is also an interesting challenge facing the workforce. As Baby Boomers age, the worker-to-retire ratio will be pushed lower than ever. This is not because young people are not working; they simply make up a smaller percentage of the population than Baby Boomers did at the same age. Thus, diversity programs should not just focus on race and ethnicity but evaluate the generational differences within the workforce.
Considerations For a Multi Generational Workforce
To support this diverse workforce that spans numerous generations with distinct preferences, it’s important to develop training programs that accommodate them accordingly.
- Challenge Stereotypes: As your organization seeks to implement multi-generational workforce training, begin by identifying and looking to overcome traditional, harmful stereotypes about each generation. Perpetuating stereotypes only strengthens the divide between employees of different generations. Employee values are largely influenced by experiences within their lives and professional careers, like economic recessions and a global pandemic. However, not every member of a generation has reacted to the same events the same way. Avoid making age-based assumptions and instead, try to understand the events that these generations have experienced.
- Establish Clear Communication: It cannot be assumed that everyone will have the same communication preferences. Leaders especially should seek to understand what types of interactions employees feel most comfortable with and build a communication strategy that can meet these preferences or provide a compromise. For example, younger employees may prefer text or email for communication, while older employees may prefer phone calls and face-to-face interactions.
- Respect Boundaries: In the modern workforce, topics that were once considered avoidable, like mental health, pay, and diversity, are now discussed with wider acceptance, especially by younger generations. Companies should seek to develop an inclusive decision-making process that values the opinions of a diverse workforce and ensure that each employee can weigh in on discussion regardless of experience level, age, or seniority.
For companies having difficulty navigating the nuances of multi generational workforce training, turning to an HR outsourcing partner, like Corban OneSource, with experience providing service to companies that have between 75 and 6,000 employees, can help guide you through the HR and compliance process for improved hiring, onboarding, and retention.
Training a Workforce
When it comes to multi generational workforce training, there are just as many challenges to navigate when compared to simply managing this talent. Here are the most important things to consider when designing training programs for a multi generational workforce:
- Personalized Training: Training should be tailored to the employee’s experience, talent, and skill level. Organizations should conduct skills assessments throughout their workforce to understand what skills employees have in their current roles and what they need to be truly successful. These skill gaps can be addressed in ways that not only benefit the employee’s career but have a positive impact on the company as well. Personalized training also results in more engaged employees and helps the training programs truly resonate.
- Encourage Employees: When it comes to learning new technologies, employees should be encouraged to explore these new skills and share them with others. For example, training could include scenario-based learning that allows employees to apply the new skills they’ve learned and figure out how that translates into business value.
- Opportunities for Growth: Training should be more than teaching employees new skills, it should seek to provide them with skills that can make them more employable in the future. All employees, regardless of their age, should be provided with equitable access to training opportunities. In a survey conducted by PwC, it found that one-third of employees over 54 had no opportunities to develop digital skills, compared to only 16% of workers ages 18 to 34. This is a significant gap that equitable training opportunities can seek to bridge.
Ultimately, fostering a culture of inclusion has significant business value. Engaged employees often outperform other teams, which can help organizations compete in a competitive market. Still, many companies may feel underprepared when it comes to managing this diverse workforce. Thus, companies have an excellent opportunity to improve HR practices and control costs by outsourcing to an experienced HR service provider like Corban OneSource. They experience providing service to clients with between 75 and 6,000 employees with the customized HR support they need to successfully navigate multi generational workforce training.
To learn more about how Corban OneSource can help your organization, contact our experienced team to learn more about our strategic HR outsourcing services.