For what seems like a lifetime we have been discussing, at great length, how to communicate with employees from different generations. Despite the fact that in recent years the generation demographics have chopped and changed, and we are entering a time where we have all four generations in our workplace, the discussion hasn’t evolved greatly.
We still try to convince others, and ourselves, that each generation should be catered to with a unique communication style. The cliches that surround how we communicate to each, which can do more harm than good, have continued well into 2020. They go a little bit like this.
“Generation Z are born with technology in their hands- we won’t need to train them as much to use the intranet and we probably need a TikTok channel or an App to really get them to pay attention. They probably don’t even know how to read a pamphlet anyways.”
“Communicating to Millennials- ah yes, let’s make sure we have the coffee machine strategically placed near their collaboration zones so we can target our comms accordingly. Also tech-savvy right? So focus on the intranet or App to communicate.”
“Generation X and Baby Boomers. This is where those colourful posters and desk-drops come in handy guys. They hate technology and only like communicating face to face. Email is good though. They can manage Email.”.
See what I am getting at here? I’ve heard these descriptions countless times despite the fact they are aimed at people from drastically different populations, cultures or departments within a workplace. It’s overdone and a bit tedious- especially when you are trying to create a communications campaign to engage all your workforce in one go.
I could go on about the dangers of communicating through the generation bias lense all day but instead- I’m going to talk about why this is now completely irrelevant. Or at least, it will be in a post-COVID-19 world.
This was echoed in a recent Forbes article I read, which outlined how we are all going to be reevaluating our priorities post lockdown with technology playing a major part. All of us meaning- all four generations.
So for internal communicators, it’s high time we drop the generalisations and focus in on a few of the following facts:
Now I’m not saying that your entire internal communication strategy needs to be digital-focused, forgetting about everything else. Far from it. What I am saying is that now is the time to put the generational differences aside and unite your employees under one common purpose within the workplace- and communicate this purpose with one approach. Here are a few tips to get you going:
Finally, avoid going back to the old ways of doing things. This lockdown has provided you with a chance to bring together the Millennials, the Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Z. Drop the labels and fight the generalisations. It will pay off.