DON’T FOCUS ON ONE GENERATION: The Business Case for Multi-GENgagement
I’ll be blunt: Building your talent strategy primarily around one generation is a big mistake!
As the new and “radical” kids on the block, the large Gen Y/Millennial cohort has captured the attention of the ever-growing contingent of media, both social and traditional. Much of the coverage is misleading. One of the aims in my work is to provide context and perspective to the generational mix we have today and going forward and emphasize the necessity for more cross-generational conversation and collaboration by making the business case for doing so.
It is a mistake to go overboard focusing on Millennials (also known as Gen Ys) and ignore the needs and contributions of the still vital Boomers and Gen Xers. And beginning to learn about the Gen Zers soon to fill the pipeline for future planning is also very important. We already have evidence that they are different from the Millennials in significant ways. Laser-focusing resources and work processes on what Millennials want and need will leave you unprepared for other generations’ different views and behaviors and how to use them together to competitive advantage.
So, firms need to take a cross-generational approach – a multi-generational initiative that proves they have the flexibility to shift with agility as warranted to new perspectives and approaches without causing inter-generational resentments and exits from the organization.
Why? To avoid lurching from one direction to another and create an integrated, sustainable culture and business model.
Once explained, the business case for cross-generational strategy and collaboration is clear and compelling. It’s all about producing a continuous flow of revenue, avoiding loss of clients and turnover costs by maximizing the firm’s ability to:
- Attract and retain clients and business alliances of different generations;
- Attract and retain new talent of different generations to minimize undesirable turnover and its considerable dollar and time costs;
- Transfer knowledge among the generations so skills and relationships stay at the firm;
- Achieve effective succession planning for all critical roles to sustain client relationships; and
- Avoid discrimination litigation and damage to reputation.
The challenge is to get members of all the generations in an organization into the same room with open minds. Let them get to know and understand each other and commit to ongoing dialogue. A 5% increase in employee engagement will generate an increase of 3% in revenue growth in the following year, according to a recent Aon Hewitt study. Isn’t that well worth the time and effort?