How To Keep And Motivate A Multicultural And Multigenerational Workforce
September 7, 2012 4 Comments
Not too many years ago employees stayed with companies for years… and they accepted that a combination of hierarchy and seniority determined most decisions. But things are different today: at the ready is a multicultural and multigenerational workforce that wants to contribute in a team environment.
For companies that embrace this diversity in the workplace, there are many short and long-term strategic advantages. One of the most obvious is that this workforce also reflects the multicultural and multigenerational nature (needs / wants), of your suppliers and clients.
One of the first things companies have to develop is a plan to attract, keep and motivate top employees from all generations (Traditional Generation or Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials), and cultures. That means companies have to offer top employees more than high pay (the motivator of the young American Baby Boomer). Work / life balance and career / personal development are important for most people in today’s job market. Even the average (now mature), American Baby Boomer is looking to enjoy life, family, and explore a dream or two as they near retirement or begin post-retirement careers.
This means most top employees will quickly look for new employment unless they:
- Feel motivated along the company goals / values
- Believe their employer is respectful of their unique perspectives / goals / values
- See how important exceptional business communication is with co-workers / clients
- Know how to communicate and work with co-workers / clients… especially from other:
What’s the solution? Excellent question. The answer is as diverse as your workforce and company – but here are two suggestions. Just remember that people will feel empowered and engaged when they have a choice.
“We are our choices.”
Example 1: Paid Time Off
Paid time off is an excellent solution. Paid time off benefits Baby Boomers who might want to explore a dream or conduct specialized research. Paid time off also benefits Gen X and Millennials (Gen Y), who want to develop additional skills. In both cases the company is also likely to benefit when their (very happy), employee returns.
Before you disregard this option as too expensive, calculate how much employee turnover costs. The average is 1.5 times their salary to search, hire and train middle level employees and up to 4 times their salary for specialized or senior employees… not to mention the less than exceptional performance you might experience while your unhappy employee is searching for a new job.
Consider working with employees wanting paid time off to create a mutually beneficial solution. A discussion makes them part of the solution and gives them choice.
Example 2: Peer Mentoring
People take ownership and learn better when they are part of the learning process. So, establish a one-on-one or group peer mentoring program with people from different generations and different cultures. Within this program, establish this is an environment where learning about each other is one of the primary goals.
Here are a few company and personal benefits / objectives of peer mentoring:
- Experienced Baby Boomers coach Millennials (Gen Y), on ‘company history and culture’ and traditional business best-practices.
- Gen X and Millennials introduce Boomers and members of the Traditional Generation or Silent Generation to new technology and coach how to use it.
- All employees have a chance to be creative in a safe – respected space.
- Employees from different cultures and generations can openly explore how they ‘feel’ about possible decisions in a safe – respected space.
The important part is to communicate openly so you can share and explore decisions made based on each other’s cultural, experiential and generational ‘nature’.
Whatever You Do… Support Them
No matter what solution you implement your multicultural and multigenerational workforce will benefit from a coach to co-establish objective and processes. A coach will also be able to teach them how to communicate and how to listen (note: this is not a plug – I am a corporate trainer not a coach).
A coach can also help individuals or teams recognize their many similarities (see the following examples). These are important because similarities will help ground the individual / team.
Multigenerational and Multicultural Workforce Similarities *
The desire for:
- Interesting, ‘rewarding’, challenging, sometimes independent – meaningful work
- A positive work environment
- A physically and emotionally ‘safe’ work environment
- An opportunity to add value – to make a difference
- An opportunity to grow / learn
- Work / life balance
- Fair pay
- A fun, enjoyable, can-do experience
“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
* This doesn’t mean every person wants the same or rates them in the same order.
People from different generations and different cultures are transforming office life. When people with different backgrounds cooperate, creativity and innovation happens. The result from this diversity in the workplace is that people learn how to communicate and generate ideas that usually creates high-impact change with low economic and emotional risk and high economic and emotional gain. Fantastic!
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