How to communicate with a Multi-Gen Workforce
The simple steps employees can adopt to create an inclusive benefits communication strategy
We are working in a wonderful time where there are more generations in the workplace than ever before. Some organisations are lucky enough to work with the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. This doesn’t just mean that people from all ages are in the workplace. A multitude of cultures, backgrounds, working styles and priorities are working together for the same cause- what could possibly go wrong?
One of the biggest issues for organisations when setting out their Benefits Programmes is communication. Each generation have a preference of how they would like to receive information regarding their benefits and rightfully so. We are fortunate enough to receive personalisation in our shopping, social networks and even our food shopping so why should it be any different in the workplace? Creating a bespoke communications plan may seem daunting for a lot of Benefits Teams but in actual fact it can be fairly easy. Here are our top tips to ensure you communicate effectively to all generations in the workplace.
It is very easy to apply negative stereotypes to the different generations. Some say that Baby Boomers are afraid of their own mobile phones and Millennials pay no attention to anything outside of an app, but these generalisations can be damaging. If you are seen to apply communication methods based upon your own predispositions of your workforce, it could do more harm than good- resulting in an unengaged workforce who pay no attention to your efforts. The easiest way to understand how different age demographics prefer to be communicated to is to ask them. See, we told you it was easy. All you need to do is get a handle on what different generations prefer and then tailor to their preferences. The best thing is, you don’t have to wait until the annual survey to get an idea of what staff would like. Immediate, in the moment feedback could be a simple way to find out what your staff are really thinking. Trial all of the methods and see where you get the best response. A pulse survey, poster, all hands announcement or one on one meetings could be the key to unlocking the secret to effective communication.
One size doesn’t fit all
After receiving your feedback from staff, it will soon become clear that there isn’t one solution to effective communication of your benefits programme. We wish it was that easy, but where is the fun in that? The results may be surprising- after all, most research uncovers that Millennials much prefer face to face over Instant Messaging (USC Marshall School of Business and London Business School, 2013) and Baby Boomers are much more likely embrace technology! However surprising the results are, it is important for organisations to understand the best way to communicate to each generation but also remember that the message is just as important as the communication channel. When it comes to the benefits you are promoting, you need to be aware that each generation have different priorities. Younger staff may be keen to do a bit of training and development (CIPD, Tapping into Talent Report, 2014) and older staff could have their pension pot at the forefront of their mind. Either way, organisations need to understand that the benefits need to match the interest of their multi gen workforce.
Embrace the power of technology
Regardless of their age, most members of staff will have access to a mobile phone. In fact 71% of people in the UK have access to a smartphone (Ofcom 2016), so organisations can make the most of this communication channel that you already know your employees spend a lot of time on. As well as having a multitude of generations in the workplace, the number of working styles is expanding at a rapid rate also. With the rise in the gig economy, remote working and flexible hours- it is very hard for organisations to reach every member of staff with a poster or an email. Some employees may not even have a desk or access to an email address so embracing the power of the smartphone is a great way to reach out to all staff at once.
Best of all, organisations have a communications infrastructure in place without them really knowing it. You can send targeted benefits communications to staff where you know they will read it, whether they are at work or at home during some down time. Providing an Employee Benefits App is a great way to engage your workforce and show that you want staff to make the most of what is on offer, at a time and place that suits them best. Push notifications with information straight to their phone is one way to ensure that everyone is included and can be as tailored as the benefits team likes. Tapping into a back end system like our HR Hub can show the Benefits Team insights such as what products are most successful or could do with a bit of extra promotion which in turn creates a more targeted communications plan.
These are just an example of the ways that organisations can embrace digital technology to effectively communicate with the different generations in the workplace. But please don’t, by any means assume that this is a quick fix approach. All of your problems will not be solved by actioning everything suggested in this article (sorry about that!). These are some tips to get you started, but in order to have a successful benefits communication strategy in place, organisations can never settle. If you assume that everything is working, then something could be wrong. Keep testing out ways of communicating and make sure to get feedback so that you can constantly improve. Only then, can you offer a tailor made benefits communication strategy that will aim to keep every generation happy at work.
If you want to know more about how Personal Group can help you implement an effective Benefits Programme that will engage all generations, check out our website on www.personalgroup.com or call us on 0333 0058 022
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Katrina McMahon is Communications Manager at Personal Group.
As well as writing blogs and articles for the Personal Group website, she is responsible for the Personal Group Social Media presence. Katrina works as part of the wider Marketing team and is also a Personal Group Benefits Champion. The Benefits Champions work to communicate all...