Founder and CEO of Insightful and a lifelong techie with a passion for all things startup.
More than 80% of my workforce belongs to the millennial generation. While reading about generational approaches to the workplace, I asked my HR team to pull our generational data here at Insightly.
I knew to some extent that we were heavy on millennial team members, but I was still surprised by the number. In other words, much of a company’s success is in the hands of the generation known for being tech-savvy, transparent, and collaborative. They were born between 1981 and 1996. This is also a generation that I personally am not a part of.
Our generational data also showed that we are about 17% Generation-X (born 1965-1980) – myself included – and only 2% are baby boomers (born 1946-1964). I expected both percentages to be higher. As of today, we don’t have Generation-Z team members, but that could change soon.
Making Generation Data Useful
So I have the data; what now? I felt like I had opened a Pandora’s box with this new information about the company’s generations of makeup.
It has been proven that there is power in diversity and that various companies grow faster and have more success. Generational diversity is no exception. This dataset shows that I am fortunate to have a multi-generational team who can relate to all types of customers and therefore approach problems from their own unique perspective.
As for the internal effects of generational diversity, it is widely known that the way each generation engages and responds in the workplace differs enormously. This made me ask myself: What can I and other members of my leadership team do to make sure all groups feel heard, knowing that the vast majority of our policies and programs will affect people in the millennial generation?
Here are some action points to consider.
Recognize decisions through the lens of each generation. Every decision my company makes as a leadership team needs to be looked at through the lens of Gen-X, then millennials, then Gen-Z. This takes extra effort, but it is a process that you have to make time for. For example, if you want to add a new advantage, how will that advantage be perceived by each generation through their respective lens? Would one find it unnecessary while the other thinks it is ideal? How do you ensure that you have a balance in time?
Understand the changing workplace. In the past, Gen-X was so outnumbered in the workforce by baby boomers that they may not have had a say in shaping the workforce. They just accepted the work environment the baby boomers created and went into it. I think millennials have brazenly defied that model and pushed for change in the workplace (looking at you, unlimited PTO, ping pong, and free snacks). The workplace had no choice but to adapt to the requests of millennials, given their sheer size. With this in mind, you need to empathize with the evolution that Gen-X has gone through and make sure they continue to benefit from it. You also need to make sure that Gen-Z’s emerging voice isn’t lost.
Open two-way communication. The old top-down communication models are gone forever. Employees want a voice, regardless of their role level in your organization. As a leader, empower your middle managers to engage in two-way conversations so that they feel comfortable and confident enough to bring up the concerns of millennials. Surveys, technology platforms and the like state that supporting frequent reciprocal agreements is vital. For example, my company adopts: eNPS this year as a quick indicator of team health and a way to get regular data and respond quickly.
Address common in ways that benefit all generations. A Deloitte study found that: 41% of millennials feeling stressed all the time or most of the time. The vast majority of my employees fall into this generational category. I believe that we need to address stressors in the workplace or risk losing our institutional knowledge if team members respond to stress by looking for other opportunities. Workshops, resources, management training and the like can all play a role in helping your employees manage and relieve stress.
As a fellow leader, I encourage you to pull the data from your HR team and see what your failure is. Regardless of your industry, you can start thinking through a generational lens to better understand and shape your workplace.