Talkin’ to Those Generations

February 21, 2017
| ByMike Ryan

In the mid-sixties the term “generation gap” summarized all of the age-related conflicts that positioned young against old. Generation differences were big back then. They caused friction all through society. Along the way so many classic songs were written about it including The Who’s timeless anthem, “My Generation.”

Fast-forward 50 years. While nowhere near as extreme as they were half a century ago, competing generational values still exist, especially in the workplace.

These competing values impact communications. Less than half of all baby boomers feel their companies do a good job communicating with them. The numbers drop to one-third with gen xers and only 18% with millennials.

While all generations rate face-to-face communication highest, employees of all ages understand that the nature of work today doesn’t always allow for one-on-one conversations. They want their employers to expand the number of communication avenues they use. In that regard social recognition offers unique flexibility.

Within your recognition program, messages can be designed to close (and not widen) generation gaps. Whenever you recognize someone the context and business benefit can be constructed in such a way that it appeals to the age group in question.

For example, with boomers you can categorize their ongoing contributions as “leadership in action.” That respects their contributions over time.

With gen xers you can acknowledge their participation in any initiative that assumes greater responsibility. That demonstrates that you are growing together.

For millennials you can encourage their entrepreneurial instincts. That positions the company as a career enabler.

Want to talk to all those generations? Learn to speak social recognition.

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