Targeted techniques for engaging Millennial or Gen Z employees are helpful but don’t fully reflect the reality — the need for employee appreciation for a multigenerational workforce.
“If you walk into any office or firm, on any given day, you’ll find Baby Boomers on the cusp of retirement working side by side with Generation Xers staking out new leadership roles and Millennials eager to make their mark,” writes columnist Deanna Arteaga.
Ensuring that your employee appreciation accounts for all ages and generations helps foster a workplace-wide culture of gratitude.
It can also help avoid serious issues like agism in the workplace, an issue for older workers especially, according to Financial Times.
As one 52-year-old recalls of working in a tech start-up where the average age was 26, “I had this really big blog, I was internet famous, I had developed a TV show and worked in Hollywood, and they were like, ‘Wow, you can use Twitter?‘”
Are Generation Differences Real, Or Is It Age?
Unique economic and social pressures shape every generation, but many generational differences simply boil down to age, according to a recent Bloomberg View article, “Stop Talking About Your Generation.”
“People in their 30s are just different from people in their 40s, who in turn are different from people in their 50s,” Bloomberg columnist Justin Fox writes, summing up a recent analysis that shows there is “little solid empirical evidence supporting generationally based differences and almost no theory behind why such differences should even exist.”
What does this mean for HR?
Instead of engaging in the latest trend in generational armchair analysis — Millennials are to blame! — focus your engagement and appreciation approach on age-based differences, or on what unites us all.
Research published last year in the journal Consulting Psychology, and later in Harvard Business Review, found that people in their 30s are less self-reflective and less open to change than their elders, and thus demand a different coaching approach.
“Executives’ behavior in coaching differs by age, not generation. Ratings varied across, not within, each of the age decades we studied (30–39, 40–49, 50–59),” the researchers wrote for HBR.
Be careful, however.
“Focusing on so-called generational differences is problematic as this overlooks differences among people in the same age cohort and ignores the importance of other forms of social identity,” according to the Australian news site Crikey.
“Notably,” author Philip Taylor writes, “no evidence has been found for generational differences in some work motivations (e.g. job security and good pay).”
Nonetheless, it is reasonable to consider some generational or age differences. For example, Baby Boomers are more likely to be seeking “a sense of legacy in their work” while Millennials seek “new ways to find careers having purpose and meaning,” according to The Globe And Mail.
Planning Employee Appreciation for a Multigenerational Workforce: 5 Tips
Planning effective employee appreciation for a multigenerational workforce challenges HR to show gratitude in ways that bring everyone together, while still addressing the concerns of a diverse workplace.
Here are five tips:
1. Work Beyond Stereotypes
Companies need to make a point of resisting the “general cacophony of generational disharmony” and promote “generational understanding and solidarity,” The Crikey’s Phillip Taylor writes:
“It is in everyone’s interests that we resist the temptation to tear up the generational contract. After all, Pete Townshend, who famously, at 20 years old, wrote the lyric ‘I hope I die before I get old’ in the song My Generation, is now aged 72.”
2. Share Continuous Feedback
Millennials aren’t the only ones who prefer continuous feedback over the traditional approach of annual reviews. Everyone benefits from regular appreciation and frequent conversations about performance. In today’s workplace, it’s simply the best practice.
Robert Delponte, vice president at Kronos Incorporated, writes in the Entrepreneur article, “3 Touch Points to Better Engage a Multigenerational Workforce”:
“When employees know how they’re doing — and how their ongoing activities align with corporate goals — they perform at a higher level and stay with an organization longer.”
3. Create a Reverse Mentoring Program
One way to promote cross-generational understanding is through a mentorship program that connects employees at different stages in their careers. Consider the the trend of reverse mentoring — it engages younger and older workers and encourages mentorship and learning that benefit both.
4. Reward with Flexibility
“Work-life balance is something that all generations have claimed they want, but Millennials are the first group to really prioritize it. This is largely due to the fact that technology has finally caught up with the desire for flexibility,” according to News Blaze.
People of different ages may use that flexibility in different ways — depending on what stage of life they’re in, it could be to build friendships, care for children, care for aging parents, or manage a chronic disease — but, however it’s used, flexibility is a workplace perk that demonstrates trust and respect.
5. Share Appreciation Gifts with Wide Appeal — Food!
The fastest way to anyone’s heart, regardless of age, is through their stomach. All great employee appreciation for a multigenerational workforce includes tokens of gratitude — and food is a practical, meaningful gift that appeals to everyone.
Food gifts, like gThankYou Gift Certificates for popular grocery store treats or staples, or a weekly meal tradition like Friday morning bagels and juice, bring everyone together and show you care.
FREE Resources for Building Workplace Gratitude
We all need inspiration to build a great workplace culture. Here at gThankYou we love helping companies connect, engage with and celebrate employees.
Here are two free eBooks that will inspire and provide actionable tools to help you build a culture where workplace friendships can thrive. Download them and start making a difference today!
1. “Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar” provides the tools and inspiration to build a culture of appreciation every day of the year. It includes mini-case studies, key stats and focus features on engagement trends, plus a calendar of celebrations and holidays for engaging with employees.
Be inspired! Download yours today, absolutely free.
“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day — or to celebrate each special day.” -Rasheed Ogunlaru, coach and author
2. “Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude” unlocks the secrets to recruiting and retaining a superior workforce, increasing profits and having more fun at work.
Learn more about the science of workplace gratitude, why gratitude is so powerful in the workplace and simple techniques to improve any organization — starting now!
Here’s to a happier workplace!
About gThankYou, LLC
Turkey Gift Certificates, Ham Gift Certificates, and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou are America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any brand (Turkey, Ham, or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any grocery store in the U.S.
gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime. gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.
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