AUT News

Intergenerational magic in the workplace

02 Oct, 2018

How to create intergenerational workplace magic

Millennials sometimes get a bad rap for expecting career perks that have traditionally come with time and experience – and being vocal enough to ask for them. This is not always a bad thing and perhaps something people of all generations can learn from;  employers who try to meet the hopes and dreams of their staff can be rewarded with additional engagement, loyalty and retention of employees of all generations.

What’s good for millennials is good for everyone

A sense of purpose, respect for and alignment with personal values, training and development opportunities and a rewarding career path, strong leadership, mentoring and coaching, recognition for outcomes rather than time invested, great communication, flexibility. These are criteria that are often defined things millennials want, but in fact everybody tends to look for in a new employer.

In today’s post-industrial workplaces, successful employers and new styles of companies are leveraging technology and creating ‘person friendly’ workplaces through great policies and a more deliberate approach to leadership.

Let’s look at three things that are often seen as millennial desires, and the benefits a focus on them can bring:

1. Values

As a millennials’ Instagram feed will demonstrate, we’re sharing more than ever before. In New Zealand, we’re becoming more open as a society, and millennials expect to bring their authentic selves into the workplace – albeit the professional version of that self (but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to follow your rules!). Just like any good partnership, it’s a great idea to check your values against each other before you move in together. Having a firm knowledge of your values as an organisation, how they translate into your culture, and being able to express all of that is a great start. Ensuring they are experienced and expressed at every level of your organisation is a strong follow through.

2. Flexibility

Employees are increasingly mobile, and available technology means we’re increasingly working from home –  whether we’re part of the ‘gig economy’  (freelance) or on the payroll. Being mindful that employees’ personal lives are important – both outside and inside regular working hours – motivates them to meet company objectives.

Dell Technologies developed a remote work programme in response to research finding work-life balance ranked as the number one career goal for all three major generations — baby boomers, Generation X and millennials. It also found that 60% of employees already regularly worked before or after standard business hours. After giving employees the independence to work remotely, 86% said they believed they were as or even more productive compared to those in the office full-time.

3. Purpose

Millennials generally want ‘purpose over paycheck’. That’s a commonly-held theory, but is this true only of millennials?  In fact it may be less so!

Age and experience are actually huge determining factors in anyone’s idea of what is meaningful. German psychoanalyst Erik Erikson tells us middle-aged adults (read: usually the managers of millennials) who have taken care of their family responsibilities are most likely to want to create something that makes a difference to society. Bringing purpose into the workplace by focussing on the impact and meaning of your team’s work is going to please all generations – and give them commonground to work from as a team. Magic!

How does your workplace make intergenerational magic?

Listen to FCB West San Francisco Chief Creative Officer Karin Osager-Birch explain how AUT interns contributed fresh energy in her workplace.