By Chris Izquierdo and Adam Zouak
“Sparrow has allowed us to communicate with multiple offices and the different generations that make up our workplace like never before,” Kyle, National Law Firm. How do we bridge the gap and unify people? Most organizations today have a multi-generational workforce. Studies have shown that different generations have differences in values, culture, and communication. These differences can make your job as a corporate communicator a nightmare and communicating with your workforce a serious challenge. Is it possible to get such different generations to read and interact with your news and stories? From interesting stories to the vital communication. We believe so, and here’s how. Today, there are five generations in the workplace:
- Generation Z (1997–2012)
- Millennials (1981–1996)
- Generation Xers (1965–1980)
- Baby boomers (1946–1964)
- Traditionalists (born between 1928 and 1945)
Each generation has its own identity with their own viewpoints, as well as values based on their life experiences. They also have differences in communication styles and in their preferred communication channels. Millennials and Generation Z are fluent in chat-based communication, threaded conversations, and collaboration software like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Google Hangouts. For them, what is news and what is a conversation is not necessarily automatically recognizable. Baby Boomers and traditionalists are often at the other end of the spectrum, preferring phone calls or in-person conversations in lieu of an email or instant message. For them conversation is real-time and news is not, often thinking of it as something that gets updated potentially once a day in either a print or online medium. The difference in each generation’s preferred communication channels creates a challenge for companies that rely too heavily on a single channel. If you want to reach your entire workforce, you need to communicate on multiple channels. This will leave you with two choices:
- Buy several systems and integrate them. For example, an email newsletter, a SaaS Intranet, a chat-based platform, and a communication mobile app.
- Buy a multi-channel platform that fully integrates those channels into a cohesive ecosystem.
Both solutions have their pros and cons so let us explore them.
When buying several systems for the various channels, you can get best of breed solutions but it is more costly and, more often than not, there is significant human effort constantly required to make it work. Integration of the various systems is not only difficult, in most cases, it is downright impossible. You would like the platforms integrated so if I make a comment on your post via Slack and Microsoft Teams, that same comment is immediately visible to any employee using the Intranet or the mobile apps. Reactions should also go across channels. Analyzing employee engagement with your content is also very difficult, you are typically left to manually aggregate data from several platforms to try to understand overall engagement. This is not only time consuming but is likely to require significant support from your IT department. This is also likely to be a more expensive solution since you must pay each vendor for their license and implementation fees.
- A better feature set per channel
- Technical Integration challenges
- Extra effort to get content out through the various channels. You need to account for each channel differences in content format, delivery and notification
- Inability to easily drive cross channel analytics
- More costly solution
Procuring a multi-channel platform allows you to create your content once and let the platform worry about formatting, delivery, and notifications. Cross-posting should be automated, and the platform will provide you with cross-channel analytics out of the box. The solution after all is fully integrated which saves you significant time and pain. A multi-channel platform would be more cost effective, there is only one implementation fee and one licensing fee. You only have to negotiate a discount with one vendor vs. having to deal with multiple vendors. This type of platform usually has less functionality than the channel best of breed system because it focuses on cross channel distribution of content. Often the Pros and Cons lay out as such: Pros:
- Full integrated across multiple channels. You don’t have to worry about channel formatting, delivery and notification
- Easily have access to cross channel analytics
- More cost-effective solution
- A lesser feature set per channel
However, not all platforms are the same. Most focus on collaboration with some communication features sprinkled in. At this point, it is important to remember your goals, if your main goal is to improve communications across your multi-generational workforce then you need at a minimum:
- Delight your employees: Regardless of their generation, your employees will be able to engage with your content in whatever regular workday platform they prefer, email, Intranet, mobile apps, etc. The platform choice will be theirs.
- Make you more productive: Ability to create your content once and let the platform worry about delivery, formatting, and notification across all channels.
- Make you more strategic: Unified cross channel analytics including output and outcome metrics.
Ultimately, the decision is yours. Rolling out a new digital workplace can be a great way to better foster communication and collaboration across generations in your organization. Unfortunately, the wrong technology can create more problems than it solves. Choose wisely and make sure you have a partner who has the same vision you do.
Considering a new omni-channel communications platform like Sparrow can feel like a daunting task, but it shouldn’t. We are here to support you through your decision making journey, and when you’re ready, are able to quickly and easily put in our communication system, unifying your channels and enabling you to take on the world. At Sparrow, we believe that corporate communications can be transformative. Sparrow – Built for Communicators. Book a conversation with us today.