Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers likely all represent a certain percentage of your employees. While diversity adds value, it also presents challenges when trying to effectively engage multiple generations.
Multiple Methods for Multiple Generations
Many factors influence an employee to gravitate toward one communication method over another. The greatest factor is the person’s generation. After all, technology has dramatically changed with each new era.
- Baby Boomers had a front-row seat to the Television Age, but grew up clacking on typewriters. Most prefer printed newsletters, brochures, fliers, and postcards.
- Gen Xers came into adulthood just as AOL was telling the world, “You’ve got mail.” An email, or an intranet article or video, will generally hit the spot for them.
- Millennials can’t remember a time when mobile phones weren’t in every hand. They’ll share this
article on social media, plus send five text messages to co-workers, in the time it takes me to remember where I left my iPhone.
A multi-channel approach can help cover each of these bases. Use more than one communication method to increase the likelihood that each employee will notice your message. Furthermore, for people to pay attention to your message, it should connect with them at least three times.
Mobile: Now a Top Communication Channel for All Generations
A multi-channel approach improves effectiveness when communicating across generations. One channel that shouldn’t be ignored is mobile, which has become highly popular with all generations. Consider the following:
- 90% of American adults own a cell phone; 70% own a smartphone.
- 97% of smartphone owners use text messaging, making it the most widely used phone feature or app — even more than voice calls!
- Smartphone owners typically send at least one text per hour during waking hours.
This isn’t just a phenomenon among Millennials; studies show it’s a huge trend for all three generations. And it goes beyond texting. In 2013, 85% of people age 18-29 used their phones to search the Internet; so did 73% of people age 30-49, and 51% of people age 50-64.
As a Gen Xer myself, I operate best in a multi-channel world. I’m an email ninja, but for long reads I prefer paper or Amazon Kindle. And yet, for timely information,a text catches my attention most effectively.
Mobile engages even my tech-hating uncle. At a wedding recently, I noticed him reading something on a smartphone and expressed my surprise. “Oh, I don’t know how to use it,” he said with a smile. “But I text all the time.”
For some uses, mobile has already overtaken desktop. For example, 37% of mobile users already use their phone to access HR communications and tools, compared with 23% who use laptops and desktop computers.
Mobile has become a preferred means of communication (and working) for a large and growing percentage of the workforce, across all generations. For some, this preference for mobile is a more significant factor than their generation, prompting Great Place to Work and others to dub this portion of the workforce “generation mobile.”
A multi-channel communications approach is vital to reach the majority of your workforce — and to reach them at least three times to help the message stick. As more people adopt texting as a primary communication tool, it’s important that you add it to your mix.
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By Jesse Lahey, with Joe Loya and Kelly Skarritt-Williams. Jesse is the host of the podcasts Engaging Leader and Workforce Health Engagement. Jesse, Joe, Kelly, and their other colleagues at Aspendale Communications help mid-size and large employers attract talent, engage employees, and achieve business results. If you know anyone who would benefit from this information, please share it!