How Enterprises Are Thriving To Manage And Retain Talent In A Multi-Generational Workforce?

In this highly competitive era of business, employers must realize that recruiting and managing talent drawn from all ages is the key to staying ahead of the market curve


The present business environment is an abode for not just one generation but multiple generations all at once. With each of them bringing in their distinctiveness of generational attitude, harnessing them together is a challenge. Especially, with the ongoing hybrid nature of work, companies must put a deliberate effort into culture-building and learning to spark innovation and creativity. Research shows that different generations are driven by different motivational forces and since generational difference is something present in most organizations, it is important to invest in fulfilling their motivational needs from all.

In this highly competitive era of business, employers must realize that recruiting and managing talent drawn from all ages is the key to staying ahead of the market curve. Hence BW People got into an in-depth conversation with Giridhar G V, Executive Vice President – Global Human Resources, Hinduja Global Solutions on he is planning the retention and what are his views on managing and retaining talent in a multi-generational workforce.

1. What are the unique ways to optimize a mixed talent pool?

Today’s global workforce consists of multiple generations, which is encouraging organisations to re-think their current strategies in order to cater to their diverse set of expectations across the organisation. Research has indicated that companies that proactively optimise multi-generational workforce strategies are better positioned to achieve business goals and stay relevant in the future.

The first step to a healthy workforce is to build a workplace culture that encourages honest communication and helps in breaking down barriers between generations. Too much emphasis on one form of communication can disrupt employee engagement strategies. A simple example is how the younger generation prefers to communicate via email or chat, while older members prefer face-to-face interactions. A combination of verbal, written and digital communication is therefore essential for organizations catering to a multi-generational workplace.

People today are opting for jobs that are giving them flexibility to achieve a better work-life balance. Flexibility in the workplace is widely accepted across generations. Therefore, evolving and adapting to new ways of working, acts as a benefit as well as a source of motivation for employees across generations to strive toward the lifestyle they want and gain the freedom they need.

2. How can businesses provide purpose to promote passion amongst their multi-generational workforce?

The current generation of employees entering the workforce is pretty open and don't hesitate to share their opinions on all issues. Issues like diversity, climate change, gender equality and the like are important to them and they expect their employers to provide equal opportunities, prioritize diversity and care for the planet. Channelling their interests to unify the workforce toward a shared sense of purpose can help organizations align employees with the organization's mission and vision. Creating open channels of communication that provide opportunities to participate in important company conversations and decisions creates a much stronger sense of purpose among employees, which in turn leads to higher employee engagement. Sharing an organization's vision and goals will give work meaning and help employees understand why their work matters on a larger scale. The organization must ask their employees what motivates them, and not assume they already know it. This will create motivation and team camaraderie.

3. What is the one common approach that helps in bringing together talent from all generations?

Recent studies have shown that learning and development and work-life balance are the main drivers of engagement across all segments, with the latter becoming more prominent over the past year and a half. The main differences between them are usually in the areas of learning and skill acquisition, adaptability to change and cooperation with others. These mostly relate to the differences in their professional and personal needs depending on the stage of the employee's life cycle.

The best way to create synergy between multi-generation teams is to take advantage of everyone's abilities and recognize everyone's goals. A "one size fits all" style of management simply won't work with a multigenerational workforce.

It can also be very beneficial to try reverse mentoring programs and build mixed-age teams to help them share their knowledge. Providing rewards and benefits and always encouraging work-life balance is very essential. And making sure company's incentives resonate with employees by being clear about where they are in their lives.

4. Integrating employees of mixed groups and experience levels while forming teams to work on certain projects can help boost seamless coordination. How do you think collaborative skill-sharing helps in breaking the generational bias within the workforce? How can an organization leverage the benefit of collaborative skill-sharing?

We are often guilty of stereotyping people. According to research, our brains tend to automatically rely on stereotypes to make faster decisions. While it's good to consider generational differences in the workplace when recruiting, hiring, engaging and retaining employees, leaders need to understand that relying solely on stereotypes isn't helpful. Also, issues based on stereotypes can be easily resolved if a framework of mutual respect is created. The best way to do this is through a mutually beneficial process of sharing knowledge and to gain respect from peers regardless of one's generation.

Creating and nurturing an environment where questions are accepted and knowledge is shared provides a tremendous opportunity to learn from one another. When employees from different levels of experience come together to work on certain projects, there’s a lot of learning and improvements altogether. Thus, this can also encourage creative thinking and the use of new approaches to challenges. The aim is to change the perceptions that older generations are unable to change the way they work or that younger generations cannot handle responsibility, thereby breaking generational bias. This effort is designed to help employees understand that each generation brings something unique and special to the team that will benefit everyone.

5. How should organisations focus on eliminating the one-size-fits-all managerial approach?

Giri: In every company irrespective of their size and department, we are likely familiar with the common notions such as - If you come in late, you’re lazy. If you work during off-hours, you’re committed, of what it means to be successful at work. In fact, despite the change in the workplace after the pandemic, these constructs still hold a lot of weight. One study found 43% of managers have fired employees for being tardy even though the employees were productive when they were in the office. Because of this, workers may end up spending more energy looking efficient, tough, or skilled than actually getting the job done. And rewarding these behaviours encourages a one-size-fits-all approach to success and penalizes employees who may have great qualities. Overall, managers can eliminate any misconceptions about what success looks like by setting clear expectations. It is prominent to take the emphasis off of these myths in the workplace by making the focus less on appearance and more on quality.

6. Considering that different generations favour different modes of learning. How can leaders expand learning opportunities to empower the multi-generational workforce?

Giri: One of the few things all generations agree on is the need to develop new skills and knowledge to build a strong career. Learning and development are the key to making employees feel they’re valued by their organisation. However, management must recognize that different generations prefer different ways of learning. Each generation has their own concept of learning and development which is another significant difference between a multigenerational workforce. In addition to the traditional methodologies used in organizations, hyper-personalization of learning is critical for the employees to learn at their own pace, while using platforms they are most equipped with. Using different platforms based on professional needs and using immersive learning methods would enhance the learning

experience and help employees learn new skills. Therefore, providing employees with multiple training options will be much more effective than focusing on just one.

7. A diverse workforce can help businesses come up with more prepared for the future. How does having an inclusive vision ease the multi-generational tension?

In a hybrid model, where business outcome is the only measurement for success, there is no other recipe for effectiveness based on other criteria. An inclusive, collaborative culture and focus on improving the experience of every employee helps ensure success while creating an environment of equal opportunities. A diversity of perspectives can always come from different channels, but the best way to do this is to include different voices within the organization by giving them a level playing field regardless of their differences. A data-driven strategy helps examine an organization's current state and future direction to create integrated DEI plans and become more sustainable. Surveys, focus groups and data trend analysis will help understand sentiment and ideas to bridge the gaps. Understanding the essential differences, components, and measurements that make up DEI is the first step to improving it. Identifying key areas of opportunity and applying them at different stages of the employee lifecycle will make the entire DEI exercise meaningful. For example, applying and reviewing equity in the performance review process. A diverse mix of voices will lead to better discussions, decisions and results for all.

8. While some employees might be open about their demands, others might feel hesitant in expressing their needs. How HR can collaborate with managers to incorporate employee feedback and concerns?

Managing a multi-generational workforce that is increasingly diverse has always been challenging and the same has been further amplified by the hybrid work model. Balancing the needs of remote, in-office and hybrid workers while working towards achieve company goals, requires managers and HR leaders to focus on the big picture, while recognizing and addressing the demands and desires of each group. Employees who started their careers in an organization with strict hierarchies may feel intimidated to raise problems with their management. Because of this, managers must work with HR leaders to provide opportunities for employees to voice their concerns and feedback through timely employee sentiment sessions. HR managers and leaders will need to change their leadership style to take full advantage of a multigenerational workforce and help their organization reach new heights for the foreseeable future. Companies can benefit significantly from leveraging the diverse knowledge, perspectives, and individual capabilities of each generation.

9. How organisation can re-imagine employee engagement strategies to build a workforce and a work culture that is borderless and inclusive?

Having a workforce with mixed generations working together in the same environment is a new way of growing workforce diversity and provides benefits to organizations. A multigenerational workforce brings creativity, innovation and productivity through a dynamic mix of ideas and perspectives. Each generation has its own work ethic, work styles, communication styles, perspectives and expectations. Each of them also has biases and prejudices against other generations.

In order to make sure everyone at the table feels included, organizations must provide a safe forum to every employee – no matter what age group or level in the organization – to share their thoughts and ideas, raise their concerns, make suggestions and their unique contributions. This helps build trust and a sense of ownership for their work. To summarise it, companies need to foster a work environment that thrives on diversity and inclusion, because members from different generations—with their own levels of knowledge and abilities—can and should work and learn in harmony.

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