Technology comes first in managing today’s multigenerational workforce
We’re seeing a workplace that in theory, could employ people from the ages of 18 to 80, which has significant implications on how an employer should think about how it manages such as demographically diverse workforce.
While Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennial employees all bring unique perspectives to work, technology today is the greatest divider of how people want to communicate, collaborate and do business. For example, Millennials using their smartphones in a meeting are more often found to be multitasking, rather than being intentionally disengaged or rude. But this misunderstanding can also explain why, over-one of Millennials find it difficult to manage older generations, with a recent survey into multigenerational leadership finding that that more Millennials are managing older professionals – despite many respondents worrying that could be negative to a company’s culture, due to a lack of managerial experience from this generation.
In a multigenerational workforce, there is potential for negative stereotyping. Older workers can easily perceive their Millennial counterparts to be fickle and excessively demanding, while Millennials may look at Baby Boomers as inflexible and difficult to train. However, this simplistic and stereotypical line of thinking is unrealistic and dangerous for businesses, as it means that people are simply categorized into pre-defined boxes, rather than in assessing an employee’s specific preferences and needs.
Rather, HR professionals and senior management should think about technology as supporting all employees in its ability to drive better engagement and drive greater efficiencies across the entire organization – whether that’s through increased productivity or improved profit margins on projects. Technological advances are continuing to develop more mobile and more sophisticated solutions for the workforce. For example, we’re already seeing wearable devices that rely on geo-location data to understand the time taken to complete a specific project in the field, applications that can better automate workflows, and self-service technologies where people can decide for themselves how to consumer information.
Think of communications tools as one example of technology that has come a long way over the last two generations. Typewriters have evolved into personal computers and mobile devices, faxes and telegrams to email and real-time chat applications such as Slack, and in-person meetings to video conferencing tools. At Replicon, we’ve also worked with many businesses who have over the years evolved from clunky, manual or Excel-based systems of tracking time. We’ve focused on equally developing both our web and mobile applications so that depending on the user, he or she can view, access and submit their important time and expense data instantly – and also be notified via email or via our app on anything that requires immediate action. In addition, we’ve upended the traditional method of punching in or out of a shift using a hard-wired clock, by transforming any tablet or mobile device into a cloud-based time clock software – Replicon CloudClock – that helps deter time theft, is easy to set up and scale across the business, and provides easy self-service to users.
Stereotypes of each generation aside, ultimately employees want the same thing — to be engaged at work and be well positioned to achieve their specific career goals. Technologies today serve as the foundation for helping everyone in the organization.