The Generation Gap is written about and talked about a lot, and I mean A LOT. Why? It makes all the difference in your workplace when employees are engaged. Engaging four generations can seem near impossible.
Imagine for a second, you are a parent of four children. You have asked all of them at the same time to tell you what they recommend for dinner. One screams pizza, the second begs for hot dogs, the third hasn't answered because they are too involved in their tablet, and the fourth ran away refusing to eat at all.
This is the same feeling an employer or manager experiences when trying to actively and effectively engage the four generations of employees working within their company.
The Four Generations
Traditionalists/Veterans: Traditionalists are a part of the smallest group of the workforce today. They were born before 1945 and carry a very traditional work ethic. They may have had experiences through the Great Depression. They uphold the value that hard work and personal responsibility are key employee qualities. They are disciplined, and dedicated and instant gratification is far from their repertoire.
Baby Boomers: This generation was born post WWII and make up the middle aged population within the workplace. They were raised to seek long term career paths and are very loyal to their employers. They have a "need to know" attitude about everything and like to be informed on the big picture. Baby Boomers tend to make their work weeks 50 hours and can be classified as "workaholics." They need to feel valued.
Generation X: Born between 1966-1985, this generation is a skeptical one. They want to feel valued and like being told so, but question authority often. They tend to work on their own terms and are quick to disengage. Generation Xers are not as loyal as Baby Boomers when it comes to employers. They can access information through a variety of ways and are not afraid to dive into things to figure it out, or make it work for them. They are constantly seeking a better way to do things or for streamlining things. They like to know the ins and outs as well as how it pertains to them specifically.
Millennials: Millenials make up about the same size in population as the Baby Boomers in the workplace. This generation is one of instant gratification, constant feedback, and connecting with those through common threads. They seek recognition for the work they do and are the least loyal of the four generations to their employer. They need to feel a part of the job they are doing and want their opinions to be recognized. They are used to technology changes and want information quickly and effectively. They are very busy individuals and are goal-focused.
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Major disclaimer, (as every article regarding the different generations should include) each individual may not fall into each description just because they were born in that specific time period. These are generalizations, but can be a starting point for leaders within their companies to engage all four generations.
The Four Elements of Employee Engagement
Gallup's latest meta-analysis shows that business units in the top quartile of employee engagement are 21% more profitable, are 17% more productive, have 10% better customer ratings, experience 41% less absenteeism and suffer 70% fewer safety incidents compared with business units in the bottom quartile.
If that is not case enough to want to keep your employees engaged, then I don't know what is.
There are four key elements to engaging your employees:
Communication: Communication is absolutely key in any workplace. It is important to keep your employees "in the know" about your company. The good, the bad, and the ugly. From policy updates to HR updates, from new employees to Retirements, from statistics to ways to improve; all of these things should be openly shared with your employees. Blackhawk Engagment Solutions reports that only 40% of employees are well informed of their company’s goals, strategy, and tactics. When your employees feel like they know what's going on within the company, they may be more apt to remain a part of it.
Clear Expectations: When your employees know what is expected of them, they tend to work more productively. If employees are left to guess what they are expected to do, whether daily tasks or their place in the company, they may be less engaged.
Recognition: You have to find the type of recognition that your employees expect, and that will differ for every employee. Some people like public recognition, some do not. Either way, everyone likes to know when they are doing well in the job they were given, and whether it be public or not, recognition of some sort allows employees to stay engaged. As reported by Blackhawk Engagment Solutions, 39% of employees feel underappreciated at work, with 77% reporting that they would work harder if they felt better recognized.
Participation: Participation is the outcome of great engagement. Employees that are engaged will participate more often in not only their job tasks, but also team building workshops and company led social events. Offering training classes to help employees further their career goals is a great way to get employees engaged. Also, allowing employees to engage in social media platforms can bring participation to the company's social pages and can boost engagement.
Having engaged employees is fundamental to your business growth. Using the four elements of across four generations to gain fully engaged employees gives me the picture of standing on top of one mountain trying to jump across to the mountain next to it. Quite impossible. Well there may be a solution.
How Can Digital Signage Bridge The Generation Gap?
Digital signage, an evolving technology that uses display screens and a media player to show content generated for a specific purpose can be that bridge. Digital signage has many uses and is found in retail, quick service restaurants, health care facilities, sports stadiums, and corporations.
The primary goal of digital signage is to engage your audience (in this case, engage your employees) by giving you the flexibility to tailor it to your audience's needs and interests. Being able to customize content to reach each generation and make the most impact is what makes digital signage such a versatile solution.
Here are some ideas for modifying and generating content for your corporate digital signage in order to keep each generation engaged.
- Keep zones at a minimum (zones are the different areas of content on the screen at one time)
- Use high contrast images and increased font sizes so they are easier to read
- Highlighting birthdays, anniversaries, bios on new employees or management, is appealing to Traditionalists
- Wayfinding options are a great option as well to help guide their way through large buildings and to find meeting room locations
- Use RSS Feeds to display news, weather, and traffic updates
- Adding videos and animation will appeal to baby boomers
- Posting company and department wide mission statements, goals, and values allow them to concentrate on the big picture
- Include announcements from HR regarding benefits and health related tips
- Community involvement, company wide functions outside the workplace, ways to get involved
- Post data visualization information - Gen Xers want to know where they stand, and where the company stands
- Add videos, RSS Feeds, websites, and interactive touchscreens to your displays
- Use personal bios and stories to engage them
- Allow for message submissions for Gen Xers to provide their thoughts and ideas
- Lots of videos and ever changing content
- Use of beacons, QR codes, and social engagments keep Millennials busy
- Post recognition for goals achieved
- Boost competitions and contests to keep them motivated
- Touch screens and wayfinding that can connect to their mobile devices will keep them engaged
It is important to understand that engaging your employees will be beneficial to the success of your company. Corporate digital signage bridges the generation gap because it is one solution that can reach and engage all four generations at a time.
Coffman Media is a digital signage integrator that can help you find the digital signage solution for your corporate needs.