Motivating a Multigenerational Workforce in the 21st Century Reply

Originally posted on Longnecker & Associates blog.

One of the biggest challenges in companies today is how to successfully motivate employees. No other time in modern history has the corporate landscape been as diverse as it is now with multiple generations coming together in the workplace. There are four unique generations that make up today’s corporate culture: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. Each generation brings unique attitudes, expectations, and values that companies must be sensitive to in order to cultivate job satisfaction, retention, and ultimately, productivity. Understanding what makes each generation distinctive will prove positive when selecting the method or vehicle of motivation.

Traditionalists, born on or before 1945, became the definition of “America’s Values” based on their hard work, honesty, and dedication. They are reliable, value job titles, like to think they contributed toward the company’s overall success, and expect recognition for their loyalty.

Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are often referred to as the “Me” generation. Work is a high priority for them, perhaps the highest, which translates into long hours and stressful lives. They value teamwork, prefer a structured work environment and expect others around them to put in the same amount of effort and time.

Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, have been credited by some as bringing work-life balance to the workplace creating a shift from the Baby Boomers work ethic as they transition into managerial roles. They prefer to work independently with minimal supervision, purpose to get fast results and thrive on opportunities to grow.

Generation Y or Millennials, born after 1980, are technologically savvy and desire to be recognized for their performance as a strong asset to the company. Unlike previous generations, this group is interested in change, prefers flexibility and thrives on having continuous short-term goals and deadlines. For some Millennials, the labor market is seen as a place to sell their skills to the highest bidder and they don’t mind moving from one company to another.

In the past, there has been an unspoken employment agreement between the worker and their employer. In return for job security, employers were guaranteed loyalty and commitment from their employee. In the new economy, this is a rare relationship to find. As employers announce layoffs, employees often leave for better opportunities. Ironically, as companies are declaring people as the most important asset, they are still treating them as disposable. Companies must focus on motivational practices that meet every employees need, regardless of age. This will allow for effective development, sustainability, and alignment of the overall objective, profitability. To ensure that employees of every generation are effectively engaged and integrated into a company’s culture, employees need to know and feel that they are welcome, wanted, and there for a purpose larger than themselves. The following mechanisms are designed to achieve those goals.

Attract to retain. For longevity, get the right candidate in the right position. Look beyond the candidate’s skill set to ensure that their work style and personality fit in the culture of the company.

Provide meaning and purpose in work. Employees need to understand the reason for the organization’s existence. Create a mission or simply a vision statement that each employee finds exciting and stimulating.

Provide work-life balance. Work with your employees to give them flexibility. Companies must recognize that employees have lives outside of the workplace. Whether you are talking about the single employee, married employee or the employee with a family, everyone is looking for the right balance between work and social life. The smartest companies will allow employees to manage their lives and their work schedule as long as goals are being met.

Share the rewards. Traditionally, the employee was paid for hours worked and not for what they produced, created or serviced. Today, value lies in the employee’s knowledge and skill set that makes a company’s innovations essential in the market place. Develop a compensation system that rewards the employee for individual goals met as well as company goals reached. Annual incentives and long-term incentives both play a vital role in attracting, retaining, and motivating employees of all generations. Employees want to be compensated for the value they deliver not just the hours they invest.

Engage the employee with customized rewards. Learning what motivates employees of different generations is a necessary process to keeping employees engaged in the company. Not all employees, especially those that are from different generations, have the same interests outside of work. Take time out to know what your employees enjoy doing; that way you can reward them with a meaningful non-cash award for a job well done.

Offer benefits for everyone. Health and welfare benefit plans come in all shapes and sizes. Make sure you offer benefit plans with everyone in mind. Every generation has different priorities and needs, encourage employees to assess every benefit option offered by the company to find the best one for them.

Build relationships to last. The key to a successful work environment is the trust and confidence that you have in your fellow employees. There is no better way to foster trust than to develop personal relationships with other team members. Employees need to feel valued and happy working with those around them. Without internal support and strength throughout the organization, employee morale and even corporate performance can suffer.

Since every workplace is unique, there is certainly no exact formula to retaining employees. However, in an ever-changing corporate environment, it is important to recognize that there is much more than monetary motivation for this multigenerational workforce. Employees need to feel they are part of an organization that challenges, stimulates, and values them. By taking steps to establish a successful relationship with open communication between employer and employee, employees will be enriched as will the companies.

Challenges of age diversity at work 1

Katrina Pritchard (2)
Guest blogger: Dr Katrina Pritchard, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Studies at The Open University Business School. Dr Pritchard will be facilitating our forthcoming Business Perspectives masterclass in London in February.

Hardly a day goes by without the UK press highlighting issues associated with the changing age demographics of the UK population. My Open University colleague, Rebecca Whiting and I, are never short of materials to comment on in our daily blogs about Age at Work. For example, recently we have considered the announcement of ‘older worker champions’ at UK Job Centre’s to help the over-50’s develop ‘digital skills’, asking if this might perpetuate a stereotype of the older worker as less-IT proficient.

Despite having been on the media radar for the last few years, the challenges of age diversity at work are however poorly understood. Academic research has traditionally treated age as just a number. However ‘age’ is a significantly more complex than a chronological marker or membership of an alphabetically denoted generational category might suggest. For example, it is it is recognised that chronological age is at best a proxy measure (rather than a causal variable) for issues influencing work-related outcomes.

Moreover despite many consultancy-led reports highlighting challenges, there are few fora for managers to share practical experiences. Employers need to consider their legal obligations (avoiding age discrimination, for example), understand the potential implications of an age diverse workforce and also to consider how age-related stereotypes might present challenges to the achievement of organisational goals. Age related issues are often presented as a competition, between older and younger generations. Characteristics which are ascribed to generations are said to cause tensions at work, tensions which managers and leaders in age-diverse organisations need to address.

In this respect our Business Perspectives event provides a great opportunity to explore issues related to age diversity with insights from senior figures in the legal, automotive and health sectors. We are also delighted to welcome Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, whose mission is ‘Championing better work and working lives’. Alongside academic perspectives, our sessions will explore issues related to both younger and older working lives providing the much need opportunity to share insights and practical experiences with organisations for which age diversity is critical business issue.

Leading and managing in age diverse organisations Reply

Join our latest Business Perspectives masterclass in London on Thursday 12 February 2015 and engage in the debate about issues of age and age diversity in the workplace.  Leading the event is Dr Katrina Pritchard, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Studies at The Open University Business School (OUBS).  She has a long standing interest in the issues faced by both older and younger workers, and how organisations and leaders can work to give these equal attention in the workplace.  Along with her colleague, Dr Rebecca Whiting, she writes the Age at Work blog and their research has recently featured in a Special Issue of the highly regarded academic journal Organization Studies.

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We’ll be exploring issues related to age diversity from the perspective of those leading and managing contemporary organisations from the legal, automotive and health sectors.

Speakers include:

  • Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD – insights and perspectives from the organisation whose mission is ‘Championing better work and working lives’
  • Martin Hall, HR Manager at BMW – hear Martin’s extensive experience of managing a workforce spanning the full age spectrum
  • James Davies, Joint Head of Employment, Lewis Silkin LLP – offering a legal perspective on managing in age diverse organisations
  • Paul Deemer, Head of Equality, Diversity and Human Rights, NHS Employers – Age in the NHS: the Working Longer Review

Further information on all our speakers and details on how to register are available on our website.

Tomorrow’s demands on today’s leaders – highlights from the roundtable discussion & webinar Reply

Highlights from the Business Perspectives roundtable discussion and webinar on Management Now: tomorrow’s demands on today’s leaders are available to watch, in a short 30 minute video.

Listen to our speakers about how managers can tackle the knowledge gaps and skills shortages of the future, whilst embracing new ways of working and creating more effective working environments.

This concludes the Management Now quarter. The next Business Perspectives Masterclass will take place in London on 12 February 2015, focusing on Leading and managing in age diverse organisations. More information and details on how to register are available on our website.

Management Now trend report & webinar 1

The Management Now trend reportOur latest Business Perspectives trend report looks at our current topic of Management Now: tomorrow’s demands on today’s leaders. The report considers the wider world of the future manager, focusing on mindset, culture, technology, agility and current trends.

The pace of business has never been so fast, which is why this summary has been designed so it can quickly inspire you at home, in an airport or on the go. You can download the report now, absolutely free.

Download the report

Continue the conversation with our free Management Now webinar, focusing on the challenges that face managers today and the demands of the future. Our free one hour webinar will take place on Wednesday 12 November 2014 at 19:00 (GMT).

The online webinar will introduce video highlights from the Business Perspectives thought leaders roundtable discussion, held in London on Tuesday 21 October. During the webinar, we’ll draw on the contributions from our roundtable discussion and further develop these discussion points. You can contribute via our live online polls and Q&A forums.

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We invite you to download and share the report and send us any comments. If you would like to contribute your perspective towards future themes, please contact our Business Perspectives Editor.

Skills Shortage Looming Reply

Around the world, governments are predicting serious employment challenges relating to a pending shortage of key skills. The UK Commission for Education and Skills (UKCES) contributes to policy and research on employment and in its report, Working Futures 2012-2022, predicts that by 2022, two million vacancies requiring higher level skills will arise.

In another recently published report, The Employer Skills Survey, UKCES estimates that 20% of all vacancies arise when employers cannot find people with the skills and qualifications they need yet almost half of all businesses surveyed say they have employees with skills and qualifications that are not being fully used at work. Just as the business context moves on, so do the skills necessary to meet them. And where people have skills but are underutilised, they too move on.

There are predicted consequences and implications of this impending shortage including:

  • heavier workload for other staff required to cover the gap
  • increased operating costs
  • difficulties in meeting quality standards
  • greater difficulty in introducing new working practices

What can be done to address this and how does it impact on HR, L&D departments and the companies and institutions that design and deliver development programmes for them?

Perhaps predictably, over three-quarters of those employers who identified a skills gap are trying to overcome them by increasing their investment in training, greater staff supervision and development on the job and more regular and better connected appraisal activity. Yet a quarter have not yet acknowledged any danger.

What Needs to Change?
The increasing alignment in many organisations between strategic business priorities and investment in L&D will, among other things, help to avert a major skills shortage.

Increasingly L&D professionals are more closely aligned to business strategy generally and more so with HR systems and processes. This enables them to identify and make a more powerful case for investing in the skills and knowledge to sustain their organisations through turbulent times.

Many other changes are also taking place reflecting a more strategic approach to L&D:

  1. Greater emphasis is being placed on the measurement and analysis of the inputs and outcomes of development interventions.
  2. L&D departments are working more closely with line managers to upskill them in how to identify their training needs, create L&D plans and follow up programmes to embed learning.
  3. Investment in management training is supporting talent development and retention, while upskilling and encouraging more facilitative approaches amongst more experienced managers.
  4. This stronger dialogue with managers helps to align future programmes with anticipated skills gaps.
  5. More robust and objective evaluation of existing programmes is being undertaken to establish which offer value for money and added value to the business. Those that don’t may need rework; those that do may need to be carefully protected even when budgets need to be cut.
  6. Clearer longer term succession planning and better identification of those employees that could fill vacancies with some training and support. Good induction and follow-up programmes that help to ensure that new employees have training plans in place to get up and running as soon as possible and development plans for the future.
  7. Seek ways to enhance the efficiency of programmes. For example could a more blended learning approach with a significant work based element make learning more accessible and readily applicable. Linking programmes to live priorities not only provides a rich seam of data about the impact on the business but is often seen as win-win by participants and managers and a more efficient use of precious time.

This content originally featured on HR Magazine, an online HR publication for people-focused, forward-thinking, business leaders who want insight into, and examples of, business-contextualised HR to develop high-performing organisations.

Today’s learning landscape – how L&D is supporting democratisation, creativity & innovation, leadership & change Reply

Sue Parr

Guest blogger: Sue Parr, Head of Executive Education at The Open University Business School looks at the business challenges behind the buzzwords.

This content first appeared on HR Magazine, an online HR publication for people-focused, forward-thinking, business leaders who want insight into, and examples of, business-contextualised HR to develop high-performing organisations.

Many managers are recognising that they have to adapt to new ways of working to meet the expectations of their employers and their employees.  New behaviours and ways of working are being driven by changes all around them, but what changes can be supported through developing capability and skillsets?

Complexity: Today’s managers contend with the complexity created by the many different perspectives of a multi- cultural, cross- functional, often geographically dispersed workforce spanning as many as three generations. In fact, there are more generations in our workforce than at any other time as those previously of retirement age extend their working lives.

For example, in areas of manufacturing companies who are increasingly aware of the benefits of sharing best practice and collaborating to drive innovation, in surprising ways, but ultimately to the benefit of all.  Commercial sensitivity is being nuanced and boundaries pushed.

Creativity and innovation: We’re not talking about being good with colour here!  We are talking about turning problems around, not going for same old safe solutions because ‘this is the way we’ve always done it ’. Organisations need their people thinking more broadly.  For managers who had stages 1, 2 and 3 of their career in a technically specific function, creative practice techniques can start to get them thinking more holistically about their whole organisation, the needs of their current market and exploring opportunities in new markets.  Although these tools and techniques can be learnt, but the prospect can be daunting for those who have bought in to a self-image of not ‘being’ creative.

Change: The themes of leadership and change have always been high on the management agenda but the focus of these has changed. As organisations recognise increasingly that what is needed to stay competitive is to be more responsive, agile and comfortable with increasing ambiguity, they are investing in their middle managers. As a result there has been a democratisation of management and responsibility. Where once the focus of executive education was on the most senior of senior teams, today’s companies recognise the need for developing leadership excellence at every level.

Connection not Control: The traditional workplace had a top down structure, hierarchies where orders were given and carried out. As more organisations use project teams spread across locations, remotely connected, the skills of influencing become much more important. Managers need to learn how to influence people to achieve outcomes where they don’t have direct authority or control.

Career Development: As the economy gets back on track the scales are tipping and businesses need to make the effort to retain good people. L&D has a proven track record as a powerful retention tool. Generation Y workers are much more likely to move onto new jobs quickly. Restless for new experiences, employees need to see a development pathway within their organisation or they will be tempted to move on. A structured, embedded talent management programme can help employees visualise their personal growth plan.

But on top of this, the managers on-the-ground, are expected to satisfy this quest for knowledge, development and progression. Coaching is a skill that can meet many of these needs, but how much should, or can, individual managers be ‘expected’ to fulfil this role?

(l&d) Centricity: Increasingly HR departments are embedding elements of leadership in learning and development right from the start of employees’ careers. Advanced organisations are incorporating leadership development and L&D at the centre of their organisational strategy. The leaders of these organisations act as ambassadors for this approach, realising that when L&D becomes a part of the DNA of a company it is much more successful.

We worked with a large UK-based retailer who wanted to change the whole way people accessed L&D and highlighting at every career stage, why it’s important. This cultural shift led to a company-wide holistic approach that supported the company’s strategy and goals.

(bite size) Content There is a definite shift towards a blended learning approach to executive development. Rather than taking people out of their workplace for long periods of time, face-to-face delivery is being supported by shorter chunks of online learning and interaction.

In the past executive education frequently included an online facility – a library of content. However this approach often wasn’t successful.  People simply didn’t use the library.  Now online is used to prepare for, and follow-on from, face-to-face learning.It’s all about making people more responsible for their own development, learning at their own pace and accessing information when they need it.

The virtual academy, or online campus, gives people the opportunity to access the content they need.  This can be particularly helpful for senior managers who are often expected to have achieved “sage status” or business “omniscience”.  The virtual academy provides a safe environment for them to fill in the gaps in their knowledge.

Overall, managers are expected to have a much broader repertoire of skills, often earlier in their careers: effective management will require highly developed communication and interpersonal skills, capability building though coaching and mentoring, problem solving through creativity, networking through social media savvy.  The pace of change is heady and the combination of developing hard and soft skills at all levels to enable individuals and organisations to adapt and thrive requires a commitment to professional development for a career-lifetime; both from the employee and the employer.

The Power of Trust webinar now available online Reply

The Power of Trust webinar took place on 12 June. If you missed it or want to watch again, the webinar is now available to view on demand!

Listen to what our speakers had to say about why trust is key to long term competitive advantage; learn how to repair and build trust and how to understand its dynamics in your own organisation.

Our webinar panellists included Dr Diannah Lowry, Lecturer in HR Management at The Open University Business School (OUBS) and Kelly Drewery, Director at Talent Glue. Facilitating this virtual event was Associate Lecturer Peter Wainwright, host of our previous Business Perspectives webinars.

Watch the webinar on demand.

You can also see what delegates had to say about the event on Twitter, and get the latest updates on events, offers and thought leadership pieces by following us @OUBSchool #OU_BP

Video highlights from The Power of Trust masterclass on 22 May Reply

Creating and maintaining trust in organisations
Professor Ros Searle, The Trust Hub, Coventry University

Building trust from the bottom up: a workplace strategy
Anne Sharp, Chief Executive, Acas

Trusting you, trusting me – An exploration of trust in the recruitment and selection context,Volker Patent, The Open University

Can trust be managed? Ann Francke, Chief Executive, CMI

Further video highlights from Dr Steven Chase, Director of People, Thames Valley Police; Ruth Sutherland, Chief Executive, Relate and Dr Diannah Lowry, OUBS are showcased via The Power of Trust webinar.

The Power of Trust webinar, 12 June Reply

How powerful is trust in the workplace? Join us for the latest Business Perspectives webinar on The Power of Trust on Thursday 12 June at 7pm (BST).

REGISTER NOW!