How HR can engage a multi-generational workforce

by Sarah Megginson18 Sep 2014
HR leaders should focus on leveraging cutting-edge technology in the workplace, but without turning their back on more traditional techniques.
They risk alienating some staff if they fail to take this balanced approach, said Garry Adams, leader of Mercer’s Talent business for the Pacific.
“Today’s workforce holds the attitudes, values and goals of four generations, which presents a massive challenge for employers to engage and retain workers to achieve business success,” said Adams.
While meeting the needs of several generations at once can seem a daunting task for HR professionals, they also hold a distinct advantage, said Pip Marlow, managing director of Microsoft Australia, as we’ve never been equipped with such “dynamic and flexible” methods of engaging with our workforce.
“Ultimately, we’re trying to empower people in a mobile, cloud-first world, to be able to access the information they want from any device they want,” she said.
“At Microsoft, this begins with our own product development and training, which allows our people to do it anywhere from any device. It’s about creating the resources and training apps so staff can use their time productively.”
That said, HR executives should back up their cutting-edge methods of communication and training with more traditional processes, to ensure all members of your workforce are comfortable engaging, Marlow added.
“It’s not just the Gen y and Millennials we’ve got to think about – we’ve got four of five generations working side-by-side, which means we need to be very thoughtful about creating an inclusive environment,” she said.
“Certain generations have more experience or greater preference for different types of technology, so we take a multi-channelled approach – we communicate via Twitter, in writing, in person, via internal memos – to make sure our people are consuming content in different ways.”


  • by Michael Forrest 19/09/2014 12:58:47 PM

    As a long time educator and a Microsoft Learning Partner we see many issues arising in this space.
    I do not believe the issue is how to provide the solution to a multi-generational workforce.
    It really comes back to understanding the audience, the reason for providing the skills and delivering in a manner that engages with the individual.
    For us to provide effective skills we need to assist each individual (group) based on how they build skills.
    There appears to be a "Just in Time" approach amongst HR generally, this only serves as a Band-Aid. This is likely to create a skills bubble as the full picture is not being provided.
    I do feel it is time to go back to basics! What are we trying to achieve?
    If we genuinely wish to skill our staff (all generations) we first need to agree on a holistic approach. This has to be a program not just a scatter gun to solve one problem.
    Then we can be comfortable that individuals will hold skills to benefit the organisation at large as it moves ahead to tackle new opportunities.

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