The influx of remote working, furlough and enhanced digitisation over the past 18 months have all played a part in the evolution of HR. But some challenges remain the same, including businesses continuing to operate with multigenerational workforces with diverse motivators and drivers.

There are currently five generations in the workplace – traditionalists, baby boomers, gen X, millennials and gen Z (the current generation). All have different needs, wants and reasons for their jobs and careers. Having varied generations in the workplace can drive competitive advantage in many ways, including helping firms create and deliver products and services that reflect the wants and needs of a diverse customer base.

Yet many companies aren’t set up to make the most of their multigenerational workforce. HR teams need to reappraise how they approach their role if they are to make this a success. To do so effectively, they need to think about mindset, challenges and opportunities, and supporting technology that can help create the ultimate employee experience.

Generational differences

Despite having five generations currently in the workplace, all share a common experience – navigating the unpredictable and challenging Covid crisis. Throughout the past 18 months, all have displayed resilience and the ability to quickly adapt to changing working environments. However, this has also caused a significant shift in how workers view their jobs, with many reassessing their priorities.

The younger generation especially – millennials and gen zers – are not afraid to call the shots after having the flexibility of working from home for over a year. If their voices are not heard and demands are not listened to, many will jump on the great resignation bandwagon and leave their employer behind.

Their priority is also focused on development – they are not interested in fancy latte machines or free food (though these are attractive perks!). They want to know what’s at the heart of their development plan and how they can reach the next grade or pay bracket. When it comes to management, they’re after team leaders who can coach them, who value them as individuals and employees, and who help them understand and build their strengths – not bosses controlling them behind the wheel. HR professionals must ensure that this approach is reflected across the business for those who prefer this method of management.

On the other end of the spectrum, baby boomers have a reputation for hard work and are motivated by position, perks, and prestige. Known as the ‘workaholic generation’, they’ve toiled extremely hard throughout their career, and are often unafraid of confrontation – they won’t hesitate to challenge the status quo if they deem necessary. HR professionals, therefore, need to bear this in mind and build cultures and employee value propositions that suit their work ethic and aspirations.

HR teams need to have an effective strategy in place that works for every generation in the workforce if they are to get the best out of their teams. One that ensures all voices are heard. While it can be difficult to evolve legacy HR processes with a multigenerational workforce, there are simple ways for HR teams to stay ahead of the curve.

It’s time to work smarter

A clear technology strategy for employee engagement needs to be contextual. Specialist HR cloud software gives HR professionals time back so they can play more of a strategic role in driving forward a successful multigenerational workforce, all while enhancing efficiency, productivity and engagement, across their business.

Harnessing such tools streamlines the ‘day to day’ for HR teams. Not just by reducing the burden of HR admin, but also by creating greater efficiencies by ensuring critical applications, such as HR and payroll work seamlessly together. And with added data integrity, HR teams can ensure these processes are right first time, every time, on time and in real-time.

This means HR teams can focus on building a bespoke employee experience for all generations across the business. This includes mental health initiatives, development and skills programmes, to ensure levels of engagement and productivity remain high. Ultimately nurturing better connections between different organisational departments – and generations – encouraging collaboration and streamlining efficiency.

It can also provide HR teams with the capability to optimise development plans across the business – which we know is extremely important for gen zers – helping everyone excel in their roles. In some cases, software has specific functions that regularly recognise the efforts and accomplishments of employees, helping to strengthen team bonds and encourage employee engagement.

Bringing generations together

While technology acts as a critical enabler, HR teams must involve all employees in decision-making processes. Happy employees equal happy customers, ultimately boosting revenue and overall business growth.

Change is happening fast, and new environments demand new thinking. HR has a fundamental role to play in keeping businesses connected. Aided by the right technology and mindset, HR teams will be in a prime position to evolve with its multigenerational workforce, bringing people together and enabling better working practices, for current and future generations.