Multigenerational Workforce: Leveraging an Employee Experience Lens

By Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified

Last week, we endeavoured to answer your questions about the workplace trends of 2024. Some of you shared, “Okay, we get it now! We’re treating all employees the same!” “Yikes, our practices of hiring and onboarding are way too cold and old school; no wonder we’re seeing low acceptance rates,” and our favourite, “I couldn’t get traction on looking at people planning since we’re laying people off…until I showed them that we have easy, low-cost ways to keep people productive and hopeful in these tough times.”

Amazing. As is often the case, the issue of trying to make such a diverse workforce happy arose, which is why we’re thrilled to be covering the employee experience, retention, appreciation and more from a multigenerational perspective.

You will know that I have zero tolerance for generation bashing. I’ve talked about that in past articles. And frankly, it’s getting harder to do that anyway, given how many generations we have now!

In an April Harvard Business Review article by Nicholas Pearce, “Leading the 6-Generation Workforce,” our team had an eye-opening moment that there were that many generations at work today. No wonder we think the problem is a generational thing, but perhaps it’s a relatability issue.

We must get serious about meeting the core need that every employee and leader has: to feel valued like the people they’re working with, and do work that matters.

The three enablers of this are Genuine Recognition, Enviable Loyalty, and Engaged Accountability. If you missed a recent article about it, you can check it out here.

image of the employee experience journey that you can use for a multigenerational workforce

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Let’s discuss how to make work scrumptious through an intergenerational employee experience lens. Follow along using our framework.

Let’s dive in.

Explore: How do you engage and retain future talent?

In our first phase, “Explore”, you actively engage potential talent through early exposure events and information sharing. Yep, the employee experience begins even before they’re trained. So, how do you attract future talent?

Create legacy stories. What did nursing, childcare, pharma, etc., look like when experienced professionals entered the profession? What does it look like now? Capture that wisdom through storytelling.

Connect through shared meaning and purpose.

Prepare: How can we give future talent the tools to succeed?

“Prepare” is about providing tools, resources, and transparent information to guide prospective employees at any age to your industry or organization. This allows you to eliminate barriers to entry.

Tailor resources with the six generations in mind. Enable smooth integration for all. If you notice some generations aren’t getting into the game, consider how preparation tools and support can make it more inclusive. For example, they don’t teach resume writing in schools. Can you offer a short course on creating a LinkedIn profile and let folks submit it that way? If it’s been a while since someone has to create a resume, but you want to attract experienced workers, what tips can you give them to reduce their angst and increase their success?

Connect through service and support.

image of a magnet sitting on a blue background with many different coloured figures of people being attracted to the magnet in a multigenerational workforceAttract: How do we give a good first impression to prospective talent?

The more you can streamline the application process to ensure a positive first impression, the more likely you will “Attract” talent, and they’ll move to the next phase.

Highlight the unique contributions of each generation, making us an appealing destination for talent of all ages. In recruitment materials, feature employee testimonials from all age groups. 

Connect through curiosity and contribution.

Hire: How can we create a memorable hiring experience?

In “Hire,” we prioritize the candidate experience by providing clear communication, feedback, and support throughout the hiring journey.

Create an inclusive environment for applicants from diverse age groups. Could you have a mentorship program that pairs experienced and less experienced people together? Is technology multi-generation friendly? Can you send thank you notes to people using your processes and expressing value for their time? Can you acknowledge their effort before they even start their first day on the job?

Connect through gratitude and appreciation.

Onboard: How can onboarding be a great experience?

When we “Onboard,” it’s a necessary function, but it’s not always done well. Setting up new hires for success with engaging orientations, mentorship, and transparent communication is non-negotiable. 

Host intergenerational gatherings to foster connections and a sense of belonging among new hires, leveraging the strengths of each generation and socials that invite people to share their food, traditions, music, and other inclusive dimensions. 

Client Spotlight: Participation Support Services

Earlier this year, we took Participation Support Services through an Employee Experience Mapping day to create a powerful one-page Stay Plan. We just did our three-month check-in, and here’s a huge win of theirs (among many others): retiring staff are key mentors and trainers for new staff, and the seasoned staff are loving it! Talk about a way to pass the torch and also support people in a connective way from the very start. It’s also a way to honour the legacy and competence of your tenured staff. A third bonus is that it opens the door to being curious about what else people retiring could do in a part-time or project-based capacity so you don’t lose them retirement when their full-time role changes. Retirement need not mean gone!

Connect through mentorship and training.

Contribute: How do we create a great workplace where everyone wants to work?

Effort is optional. By “Contribute,” we have empowered people with role clarity, feel recognized, work in a supportive environment, and are so empowered that they feel satisfied and engaged.

Leverage the wisdom of new perspectives with experience. Ensure ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) draw people from across generations to tackle challenges and elevate the culture. If folks are frustrated, negative and struggling, maybe invite them to the discussion about what could be improved. If a complaint is merely a poorly worded request, be curious about what ideas they have and how they can get more involved in improvements.

Connect through challenge and change.

image of shadows of different people on an upward trajectory with a larger person in the background drawing an upward arrow for the multigenerational workforceInfluence: How can we create growth opportunities for talent?

For people to have influence, they have to feel their voice matters and their expertise is needed. Encouraging discretionary effort by offering opportunities for involvement, development, and growth enables people to have “Influence.”

Encourage people of different generations to lead projects, take secondments (a temporary assignment with another organization or team), and try out leadership roles to ensure succession and stability. “Try before you buy!” Growing trends show that younger workers don’t necessarily want management roles, but they do want opportunities to grow, learn and try new things.

Connect through opportunities and experimentation.

Advance: How can we help people to be great leaders?

As people “Advance,” they opt into formal leadership roles or other high-visibility roles. There is support to prepare, mentor and launch new leaders.

Develop pathways for leadership progression that honour the wisdom of experienced employees while embracing the fresh perspectives of younger generations. Why not have a reverse mentoring program where folks can mentor on emerging trends?

Client Spotlight: Community Living Hamilton

Community Living Hamilton brought their emerging leaders (Influencers) and formal leaders together for our ROCKSTAR four-part leadership program. They also invited leaders from community partner organizations to participate. The bonds through projects, personalities, and purpose were amplified in this cross-generational and cross-organizational format. Let’s have titleless opportunities for growth and advancement together!

Connect through preparation and purpose.

Depart: How can we ensure smooth transitions?

“Depart” doesn’t have to mean retirement, as we referenced in the “Onboard” section with Participation Support Services. A key opportunity often unrealized in our workforce today, with people being healthy, needing to supplement their income, and having vast talents to contribute, is that retirement isn’t what everyone wants in the traditional sense. Depart also doesn’t just mean retirement. Many people raising their kids want to work part-time, by contract, come back to work early, and more. If we can explore opportunities proactively, we aren’t going to lose great people, and rather, adapt with them!

Any time someone leaves a role (paternity leave, secondment, promotion to a new role) or the organization (resignation, retirement, returning to school), you have an incredible opportunity. It need not be an absolute goodbye. 

Celebrate folks moving beyond just retirement and other meaningful milestones such as paternity leave and educational breaks. Also, explore what staying or returning might look like as a way to acknowledge them. Make departing normalized and inclusive, and reframe it not as an “ending” but as a shifting.

Connect through reinvention and reimagining.

image of a woman in a business suit walking up stairs that a large hand is drawing with a skyline of a city in the background to show transitioning in business as someone in the multigenerational workforceTransition: How do we keep talent in our work ecosystem?

One of the most incredible opportunities in the 10 phases is “Transition,” where new roles, schedules, and lifestyles can influence different ways of working. In this phase, the employment relationship shifts to ensure continued engagement and skill utilization. We touched on this above, and here’s where the action happens to take those departing possibilities and transition into something else.

Welcome and encourage people who might normally leave an organization, such as through retirement, education, or raising their kids, to proactively consider alternate arrangements with you. Having great people for a few days a week or a dedicated project is better than losing them completely! It sends a strong message to both the person transitioning and to all who remain that all people are valued and needed and aren’t a transactional commodity that’s only valued if people stay according to how the organization defines their role.

Connect through flexibility and community.

Energized Multigenerational Teams

Every person needs recognition, no matter what generation they belong to. We know it’s the essential ingredient we must protect, reinforce, ritualize, and amplify.

We do deep work with organizations to explore, map out, and put people’s plans together so that you leverage all ten phases of the employee experience. If you are curious if this could help your team, organization or association, reply to this article or reach out here.

In case you missed any of these previous blogs, we have many more tasty nuggets for you to snack on here:

Disclaimer/Humble Brag Moment: 100% of this content was human-generated (by us folks here at Greatness Magnified). We are committed to authorship integrity and will inform you what percent, if any, is AI-generated.

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