We spend a lot of time focusing on the workforce of the future and our needs as a business to transfer knowledge and adapt our solutions to the next generations coming in. In these conversations, I picture our organizations watching the existing employees file out the door to retirement as these new recruits walk in, passing the virtual baton of knowledge. However, that is rarely the case; hopefully, there is overlap where both populations are present.
During this time, it’s critical that you also honor these existing employees, as they are still critical to your future. Consider these tips for managing a multigenerational workforce:
- Create Mentor Roles: Create formal roles to allow these individuals to function as mentors to the new teams. This should be seen as an important role; provide these individuals the needed support throughout the mentoring process. This may mean freeing up time during the day to mentor and providing additional compensation.
- Provide Alternatives to Retirement: Many individuals are ready to retire but nervous about no longer working every day. Consider moving these individuals to a part-time status, allowing them to continue mentoring, acting as a subject matter expert for training, or providing other degrees of support during the transition process.
- Develop Multiple Modalities of Training: We focus so much on this future workforce that we often forget about training needs and that we have legacy learners as well. Consider providing training in two different formats until you have completely made the transition to all next generation learners so as not to disenfranchise your existing employees.
- Consider Next Generation Training for Non-Next Gen: While your new employees may find technology adoption natural, some of your existing employees might not. Consider offering training on new pieces of technology so that your existing employees can be comfortable as well. Technology that may seem simple, like using mobile devices, generating QR codes, and even connecting to Wi-Fi, may be a challenge to your existing population.
- Include In-Person Social Learning: In a world of social learning, blogs, and communities, you may be unintentionally leaving out your non-digital population. Consider having in-person communities as well for your learners who prefer in-person interactions.
These are just a few examples of modifications you may need to try while managing a multigenerational workforce. If you don’t honor these individuals and the work they provided in the past, you run the risk of them leaving before you can complete the knowledge transfer process.
One last reminder: Change is hard. Change is hard for the organization and all the people within. Be considerate in how you communicate change and embrace change. Sometimes over-communicating and allowing 1:1 time for discussion can be critical to having a stable organization.