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Bridge generational gaps to optimize workforce management strategies

Jeff Jokerst | Oct 23, 2018 Jeff Jokerst 10/23/18

As a manager, your job is to provide a healthy, motivating, and productive environment for each of your employees. But when you consider the diversity in personalities, motivators, and working styles, developing an effective management strategy can seem like a daunting task. While I’ve written about the manager mantra and leadership best practices, this blog breaks down how to ensure your management style works across all generations.


A look at the differences

First let’s dig into a few of the major generational variances in the workforce:

  • The end game. Millennials don’t display the same long-term commitment to organizations that other generations do. They are more interested in honing skills for their present role and growing their talent—not necessarily focused on their forever job. But tenure isn’t completely correlated with loyalty—even if it’s a shorter term, millennials can still be very loyal employees. Present them with opportunities to learn and grow, and keep challenging them.
  • Tech-centric. Younger generations want to be on the cutting edge. They don’t know any other way. No, that doesn’t mean you have to invest in the fanciest, newest technology. But it does mean you need to provide the best available to help them get the job done. Be open to more organic solutions and constantly evaluate the tools you provide your employees to enhance their productivity and harness engagement.  
  • Instant feedback. If your company’s policy is to only have one formal employee review each year, it’s time for a feedback revamp. Millennials want more frequent check-ins and a fluid coaching style—one that is informal and immediate. View this as a positive—the younger generation is looking to hone their craft, and that’s good for you and them.     

But wait—doesn’t everyone want that?

Are these really differences? Isn’t every employee looking for a role where they can grow and be challenged? One that provides them with the best tools to do their job? And a manager that is dedicated to offering them regular feedback on their opportunities and achievements?

Millennial drivers of engagement are in-line with drivers for other generations. They want:

  • Work that’s rewarding
  • Opportunities to use strengths
  • Opportunities to learn/grow

When it comes down to it, everyone wants a job that has meaning and purpose. No one wants to feel stuck or complacent. They want to be able to make a personal contribution by providing something that is unique to them and are looking for assistance in identifying what that something is. It is your job as a manager to act on this. Provide your employees with recognition, ongoing coaching, and an engaging work environment.


Bridge the gap between all generations

The study on generational differences is a hot topic, but it’s not necessary to overcomplicate things. The workforce hasn’t been invaded by aliens. Though there are certain outliers within different age groups, at the core is a set of values and expectations that every employee desires—to be treated with respect, develop professionally/personally, and work in a role that they feel makes a difference and is rewarding. Be the best manager you can be and give them that opportunity using the manager mantra: “Create clarity, serve, invest, every day!” 

For more on how to increase employee engagement, build customer loyalty, and improve your bottom line, download our report: Five things we learned from talking to 1 million employees.

Jeff Jokerst | VP, Customer Engagement