By Angela Ivy for Forbes
A Gen Z TikTok influencer, a millennial manager and a Gen X homeowner with five children walk into a room. That statement may sound like the start of a joke, but it’s also what a typical meeting in a multigenerational organization may look like. The four largest generations—boomers, Gen X, millennials and Gen Z—are currently in the workforce, each with their own unique communication styles and expectations.
Organizations can benefit from employees with diverse backgrounds, but a lack of knowledge about other generations in the workforce can hinder effective teamwork and communication. To successfully lead a multigenerational organization through these challenges, business leaders should work to understand the preferences of their audience, use multiple methods of communication, and unite employees across generations by crafting inclusive messaging.
Below are three strategies business leaders should consider to ensure effective and open multigenerational communication.
Understand Communication Preferences
While published data offers a wealth of conclusions about different generational styles, business leaders should take a step back and consider how best to reach each audience within the company.
Just like every individual has different preferences of communication, regardless of age, each organization’s culture creates a unique messaging environment. For instance, fully remote organizations will face different challenges than hybrid businesses with several in-person days each week.
Gathering the necessary information about communication preferences is as easy as asking your employees. Surveys can be a powerful tool to find out how employees best receive and respond to information. An internal communications survey can identify areas that need more attention and highlight tactics that deliver key messages effectively and inclusively to all employees.
Use Multiple Communication Channels
In any multigenerational organization, business leaders can benefit from sharing key messages across multiple channels and forums of communications to accommodate individual and generational differences.
While some employees will prefer face-to-face interactions, others will tend to choose phone, email or text over face-to-face meetings. Some members of younger generations may prefer face-to-face communication but place a high value on the ability to instant message and text informally for speed of execution. When possible, communicate key message points like quarterly updates or leadership transitions in multiple forums to acknowledge and respect these preferences.
For instance, an in-person, officewide town hall meeting on a major shift in company direction can allow those who feel most at ease with face-to-face communication to voice their opinions. However, it remains equally important to share key points via email or internal digital platforms and accept online submissions from employees who may feel more comfortable communicating in writing.
Unite Employees Through Inclusive Messaging
When possible, business leaders should strive to bring together employees from across generations to deliver inclusive and integrated messaging. If the culture permits different generations to routinely convene only with each other, silos may develop and foster division and misalignment. Each generation has much to teach others, and supporting an environment where teams and meetings are multigenerational can strengthen company culture. You should always deliver major communications initiatives to a diverse blend of multigenerational employees using a variety of methods.
To promote unity, take advantage of communications events to foster interactions between employees. A quarterly presentation of company performance could be followed by a more casual gathering that allows employees from multiple generations to socialize. For a virtual meeting, consider breaking out into smaller discussion groups afterward so employees can share their insights.
By adopting a strategic approach to multigenerational communications, companies can communicate successfully and create a thriving and inclusive corporate culture.