Navigating Dynamics Of Multi-Generational Workforce

In an exclusive conversation with Savi Khanna, Correspondent BW People, Vidya Munirathnam, Senior Director- Human Resources, Lowe’s India, talks about managing the three generations at the workplace- GenZ, Millennials and GenX. She explains the different values and career expectations among these generations and as an HR leader how to adapt the policies to cater to the varied expectations.


As an HR leader, you must be facing a lot of challenges in terms of a multigenerational workforce bringing in their different set of values, this different set of beliefs and thought processes. So let's start with understanding that we know that the values, work ethics, also career expectations of various generations can differ significantly. So as an HR leader, how do you align these varied expectations to ensure that a harmonious workplace is maintained? 

So with each generation. unique society experiences shape their work attitudes and expectations and Gen Zers may value autonomy, work-life balance and flexibility, And Millennials may prioritize work-life balance, flexibility, and awareness. So it becomes a totally different challenge to effectively manage a multi-generation world. 

I strongly believe that even in a particular type of generation, the value system could be different, right? So, instead of stereotyping based on generations, we could also look at creating personas based on similar choices. And that could be important for organizations while they are kind of bringing the entire workforce together and creating a harmony at the end of the day, the business objectives have to be met in the best possible way.

So some of the areas for us to consider would be analyzing the workforce and it's very important. When I joined Lowe's, the population of Gen Zers was less than 5% and today we have 22% of Gen Zers, right? So, so it is not like a one-and-done.

It requires consistent analysis of your workforce. What are the demographics? What is the composition how is the composition changing and what is the impact it is having in the overall organization? I think that is a continuous process. 

What kind of distinct differentiation have you seen in terms of how these different generations are communicating with each other?

One thing that is more interesting is that we constantly try and communicate different benefits in different ways. And we also see a trend that is aligning with the way of communication, right? If I were to take an example, we recently introduced flexing benefits, right? It's a very complex offering, It is complex to offer and it is complex to choose as well. So we had to make it simple because it had to reach many people and the success of the program. So you know our communications came up with the fact that let's do a mascot, right? Because probably they resonate with, with something which is easy, which kind of just articulates one or two things. It's a very complex one, but how do we simplify? and cater to our audience and see how do we see the translation of this communication to subscription?

It was a great hit. So, constantly, like I said, constantly try, fail, learn, and change your ways of working. 

We need to be constantly processing that information because all of them tell a story to us in terms of how our associates process the information and more so prior to a pandemic, during a pandemic and post-pandemic, the way of consuming information also has changed.

Now you've mentioned about the pandemic. Now we're seeing that post the pandemic, the Gen Zs, especially are looking for work, which is more work from home. They want like specific timings. They don't want to work overtime. And similarly, for mothers or caregivers at the organization, they want to go back home at times. So flexible work arrangements are very important to create. In your view, what is the different, the different kinds of policies that you've created to adjust these kinds of demands at the workplace in terms of flexible work arrangements?

It, definitely is a hybrid, right? It is a hybrid and the value that a collaboration in-person collaboration brings in is unique and unparalleled to so, you know, coming to what is that sweet spot, which, which is providing the flexibility and also providing the value of in-person collaboration.

I think that is where striking the right balance between both would be the right thing for the future. We are close also have incorporating this right so far. We have provided the flexibility. Most of the roles are you know, are, are in person, but then you have the flexibility to choose the days that you could come and choose the work hours that you could come.

I'm a working mother. I would prefer to come to the office as soon as I send my children to school. Right. But I would like to go from time by around three-ish, four-ish so that,I can, you know, be with the family for a couple of hours and get back to my calls. So,  whatever works best for you, and, Zers would kind of come in early. They do the gym and then get back to the floor by around 10 ish 11 ish and they have the flexibility to start the work. There are a few guardrails in terms of team meetings, etc. But apart from that, when you start, when you end and which days you choose to come to the office is a matter of flexibility and what works best for you.

So do you see any kind of a significant difference between in the productivity of the employees who are working from home and those who are working from the office constantly?

Definitely not. Like, you know, the contrary of this, during the pandemic, I think everybody did not have boundaries. They were working for more hours, things like that. But more than productivity, I think belonging comes in. And a sense of belonging and camaraderie comes in when you are able to have interactions with people once in a while, right?

Watch the full interview on the link below:

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