The Workforce of the Future is Here: Inclusion unites all generations

December 7, 2017 | Skillsoft | HCI
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It seems like Human Resources professionals can’t stop talking about the workforce of the future: the need to prepare, how to plan for the future and when we get to the future, how do we guarantee workforce success?

Well, perhaps we’re already there.

The modern learners, Millennials and Gen Z, have arrived, and they’ve brought with them a whole new world of competencies, interests and values to the organization, many of which their older counterparts find hard to handle.

The Millennial and Gen Y generations don’t know what life without social media looks like, they’re in love with constant communication and feedback, and the last thing they want is to work the mundane 9-5.

This younger workforce lives in a world where everything is available on-demand (Netflix, Amazon, YouTube). They have no patience for a one-size-fits all approach to learning, which gives them information that’s irrelevant to their specific jobs. They prefer a customized experience, including lots of learning from peers and hands-on learning.

And then you’ve got the older, traditionalists of the workforce that put their phones away at the beginning of their shift and live by the “if you’ve got time to lean, then you’ve got time to clean” mindset. They’re accustomed to the annual performance review. And maybe they even hum classic Dolly Parton tune while glued to their seats for eight hours per day.

No matter how different modern learners are from older generations, all ages groups have one thing in common: they need to learn and develop, and they need to help your company succeed.

So, when leaders look at their company goals and create a clear picture of success, how can they best manage a blended workforce and use current training strategies to develop talent of all ages?

It all boils down to one common theme: inclusion.

Leaders should avoid stereotypes and bias, as Mike DiCandilo, interim president and CEP for the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey told the Philadelphia Business Journal.

“While it’s natural for all employees to approach their work in distinct ways, this also makes it easy for generalizations and stereotypes to color perceptions,” DiCandilo said, “and that has quantifiable effects on productivity, particularly when it is based on a worker’s age and assumed preference and habits.”

If age bias can become a problem when training a multigenerational workforce, leaders must avoid it. Try avoiding assumptions – don’t assume an employee’s ideal learning approach just because of the generation they happen to fall into.

Create diverse teams within the company so that all employees of all generations can collaborate. Not only will everyone have a hand in completing a project, but they’ll be able to learn and grow from one another while building important teamwork skills.

Using the variety of competencies each generation can provide to your business enables leaders to get ahead of the game by valuing what each generation can contribute to company goals.

Take advantage of the different skills, expertise and points of view each employee has to offer, and use them strategically to be more effective than if you didn’t have them available.

Older generations have deep work experience that they’ve cultivated over decades of professional development, while younger generations tend to be more tech-savvy. Put these two groups together and see what they can learn from each other, and remember that hard skills and soft skills count, because both will be of big benefit.

In order to develop hard and soft skills in your organization, be sure to train employees on new applications, and also on positive attitudes and strong work ethic. For every generation, empowerment from leadership will pay off.

“Empowering employees to explore their preferred ways to navigate interpersonal and integrational relationships establishes respect for others and creates buy-in for positive relationships,” DiCandilo said. “That empowerment allows management to demonstrate its own commitment to diverse thought and representation.”

The Millennial and Gen Y generations walk very separate paths when it comes to professional development and ways of working, but their differences can be a tool for guiding an organization to its ultimate goal through multiple perspectives and invaluable innovation.

Register for HCI’s upcoming webcast, brought to you by Skillsoft, to learn more about utilizing universal talent strategies in a multigenerational workforce to set the stage for success.