Today, you might have up to four generations working in the same place—baby boomers, Gen X, millennials and Gen Z. Help your multigenerational workforce feel connected by implementing these helpful tips and choosing thoughtful gifts for boomers, Gen Z, and everyone in-between.
Baby boomers grew up with rotary phones. Gen X witnessed the birth of the mobile phone. Millennials had flip phones by the time they were driving. And Gen Z doesn’t remember a time without the internet.
Educate your staff on different generations’ typical communication preferences. Boomers generally prefer face-to-face conversations; Gen X likes emails; and millennials and Gen Z prefer short text messages. Help your team meet co-workers where they’re at. Have them try a variety of communication methods—especially the ones they’re less familiar with. For instance, encourage boomers to send one-line text messages with emojis, and suggest that members of Gen Z walk to the cubicle down the hall to deliver a message.
Make it fun by holding a contest. Every time someone goes out of their way to communicate in a less-preferred communication style, enter them into a prize draw. Pedometers, emoji chocolates and speech bubble adhesive notes make fun prizes that encourage everyone to consider different methods of communication.
Understand values and motivations
A multigenerational workforce means you have multiple values to consider. Older generations value loyalty and are more likely to stay with a company long-term. Millennials and Gen Z tend to value meaningful work. They’re also more motivated to seek employment with a socially responsible company.
As motivations differ, so do the rewards and benefits that motivate each generation. Baby boomers usually appreciate promotions and recognition. Gifts for boomers may include a crystal award given out at a ceremony. Millennials seem to be motivated by a fun work environment. Incentivize them with workplace games. Plan a social event every few months or form a frisbee team. A wooden ring toss game makes a great millennial thank-you gift.
Remember: just because baby boomers didn’t grow up with cell phones doesn’t mean they don’t text. And just because millennials value personal fulfillment doesn’t mean they won’t do what it takes to get the job done. Remind staff to look at individual co-workers as, well, individuals. There are many ways to keep this top of mind. For instance:
- Send everyone a jar of assorted jellybeans with a short note that says “Variety is the flavour of life.”
- Give your staff a colourful Rubik’s Cube® to keep on their desk as a reminder that diversity encourages stimulation and creativity.
- Ask team members to write a thank-you card every month to a colleague from a different generation—thanking them for one thing they appreciate.
Encourage one-on-one conversations
The more you talk to someone, the better you get to know them. And the better you know someone, the more connected you feel. Ask staff to set up 15-minute one-on-one conversations with each co-worker frequently, perhaps every other month. Make sure your team knows why these conversations are important: Discovering similarities and acknowledging differences will help them become more empathetic.
Send everyone an appreciation gift. Wireless earbuds, speakers or phone stand grips make great gifts for tech-savvy Gen Z, while a recycled paper cover notebook with pen might be ideal for generations that prefer putting pen to paper.
Create a powerful multigenerational workforce
With ideas like tailoring communication and scheduling one-on-one conversations—plus gifts tailored to boomers, Gen X, millennials and Gen Z—you can turn your multigenerational workforce into a happy, powerful team.