How to engage a multigenerational workforce is a very timely topic. The workforce is one of the first places that different generations interact in a team environment without as much emphasis placed on age. It is important to understand since the workers will come from different backgrounds, education levels, and generations that the manager or employer must know how to engage and interact with every age level. Remember that everyone in every generation wants to feel relevant, needed, and appreciated.
Motivation for each generation comes from a different place; identify where it comes from and utilize this to your advantage. The oldest generation of workers, and these are going to be the baby boomers, want to be recognized for their lifetime of experience. Their years need to have value to their employers even if their years in the workforce may be limited. The next generation of workers are your in-betweeners and they have different needs. To engage the in-betweeners, they need to feel like they are rising and in control. They are going to be feeling a loss of power when their skills are replaced by someone in another generation even if they have more knowledge or better ideas. Give this generation of workers power within the project and the ability to prove themselves because these are the employees are the pool to be promoted to high level management positions. Finally, your young generation, the famed millennials, are going to be excited about introducing new ideas. Show appreciation for their ideas, energy, and enthusiasm because they place value in their fresh perspective.
Now that the values of each generation of worker has been identified it is important to assign them roles based on how they will best be engaged. The older generation should be assigned a task that allows them to be the subject-matter expert and show off their years of experience. The younger generation should be placed in the role of the innovator; let them utilize their spirit and imagination to push the project in new directions. The in-betweener should be the manager or guide for the whole process. Let them demonstrate and test their leadership skills by leading the team to complete the assigned task.
By keeping in mind the needs and values of each generation, you can successfully engage a team that is comprised of workers from different age groups.