Most mid-size organizations have several generations in their workforce with varying communication preferences and digital expertise. From on-hands meetings to CEO messages, organizations are having to rethink how, when, and where employees can consume content.
The differences in the generations are driven by many factors from technology to society to different styles of parenting. How each generation experienced their formative years ends up being reflected in how we behave in our workplace. Different generations have different expectations of their employers.
For example, millennials and Gen Z workers have grown up in a digital environment with constant stream of real-time feedback, likes, comments, and shares. These true digital natives do not know of a world without internet, social networks, and mobile phones/tablets. As a result, wouldn’t it make sense for employees of these generations to expect the same digital interaction and feedback loops at work?
Here are some tips for reaching all the generations in your workforce:
Print is still important for the older generation
While no longer the main way organizations communicate with their employees, printed communications still have a place in the communication ecosystem. Surprised? Perhaps but that old adage of “old habits die hard” applies here, for example, the last VCR in the US was manufactured in 2016 (The last VCR will be produced this month — Quartz – qz.com).
The importance in your ecosystem depends of your workforce and industry. For example, organizations with old rural workers such as farmers are more likely to look at communication that comes in the mailbox than something that arrives via email.
Rethink your email communications
Your older employees are used to lengthy email communications, unfortunately, employees entering the workforce do not have the same patience and have a way shorter attention span.
Email is still an effective communication channel, but you need to pay attention to the following:
- Designing the content for mobile. This means use a mobile friendly font, check the formatting.
- Add videos and images. Make it visually engaging and not a wall of text.
- Avoid lengthy posts. Place the call to action at the top AND the bottom of the message.
- Create succinct and catchy subject lines. Nothing turns people off like “Corporate Update”, try “3 Impressive wins and more updates” instead.
- Highlight key facts or points with bold and italic text. This will help them when they scroll by fast.
Should texting play a role in your communication?
Texting is the native communication technique of Millennials and Gen Z workers. Allowing young employees to engage with your communication via text, allowing them to react, and comment mimics their online behaviors. This familiarity will increase engagement, trust, and acceptance.
Training and organizational change management more important than ever
You should always use workforce stats and demographic information when making decisions about which communication channels to rollout and/or decommission. A workforce renewal is inevitable, from older employees that are notoriously difficult to reach by email, and uncomfortable with apps, to a more digitally savvy generation.
You don’t need to wait until the baby boomers retire to take advantage of modern digital communication channels such as MS Teams and Communication Mobile Apps. Just make sure you’re properly supporting this generation. Quick training sessions via short how-to-videos combined with more formal training works best to increase adoption. Also, make it easy for them to provide feedback and ask questions. Engage with them often and your adoption will skyrocket.
Provide a choice for every generation
We live in a world where personalization has become the norm, why can’t we offer the same in internal communications. Let your employees select their preferred communications channels, allowing your workforce to choose among texts, emails, communication apps, MS Teams, and whatever other channels you have available.
How about also asking about the timing and frequency of communications? Some employees regardless of generation prefer communication during their lunch break while other regard that time sacred. Some would be happy with a communication summary at the end of their work week while others like the timeliness of real time communication.
Don’t just audit your communication once a year. Enable a culture of continuous listening (see our post). Listen to your workforce and read all the comments they provide. Your employees will tell you what they like. Make a point of asking them for feedback when you launch a new communication channel. If the trust if there, they will tell you if they didn’t like something.
Most business have a multi-generational workforce with different preferences for messaging formats and channels. It is our duty as communicators to adapt and respond accordingly. We are not advocating that you judge people solely by their age, rather, we would like you to think about distributing your messages in multiple ways compatible with every generation and communication preference.
Sparrow is a platform that allows you to do just that. Sparrow is omnichannel (post about omnichannel) and allows you to easily combine every channel in one platform.
If you’re looking for a platform to help make your life easier and connecting you with all of your workforce, give Sparrow a look. We’ve lived the pain, we understand the hopes, and we built a platform for communication professionals that delivers. From Intranets, to Microsoft Teams, to newsletters, and mobile, we know how important corporate communications is. Sparrow – Built for Communicators. Book a conversation with us today.