HR departments are being stretched in many different ways at the moment but one of the issues which hasn’t gone away is how to look after and meet the needs of a diverse workforce, particularly with a variety of different age groups.
While big companies have had workforces made up of different age workers for decades, now is the first point in history when five different generations have been working alongside each other at the same time.
With apprenticeships and graduate schemes attracting the young talent, and people able to work past the traditional retirement age, this is a big change for organisations when thinking about how to attract and retain the best talent.
Employee benefits have long been used as a recruitment and retention tool, but what appeals to one generation may hold very little attraction for another. It’s important not to make assumptions but to assess the needs of your particular company.
A change affecting all businesses is employees no longer having to retire at 65, as this means the potential for much older people to still be in the workforce. This can become a challenge in itself when it comes to employee health and wellbeing and designing an employee wellbeing programme that speaks to the needs of all employees.
It’s vital not to fall into the trap of thinking all millennials want X type of benefit, while all Gen-Z employees will relate to Y type of communication. When looking after a multi-generational workforce it’s important not to use assumptions.
Good communication and good HR practice avoids grouping everyone together and treats them as individuals, with personalised service and options. Communication should be in a wide variety of formats to make it accessible for everyone.
While employee benefits should be tailored to what the particular workforce in question actually needs and responds to – the best way to find out what that should look like is to ask them with an employee survey.
It’s no longer appropriate to offer your workforce free gym membership and baskets of fruit and assume everyone will be jumping to work at your company. Employee benefits have moved on a long way since then.
Just as the world of healthcare knows that every patient with the same disease is still an individual with different needs, the world of HR needs to know that every worker in the same company has different requirements.
Benefits like health screenings, or health rewards programmes which are tailored to individual’s own health needs can be a much better fit for a diverse workforce rather than a generic gym discount. A health screening lets someone take control of their own health, their way, by understanding what needs improving.
What’s important for the HR team is to understand the health needs and requirements and risks which are occurring within their own workforce. An assessment of all the health issues as a starting point, would then enable the organisation to pull together a workforce profile and set out tailored strategies to address any issues which might arise.
For example, in a company with a very young workforce, there might be issues around employee retention which could be addressed by increasing the perceived value of the benefits package, by making changes to increase its relevance to their daily lives. Whereas a company with a much older workforce might need to look at life insurance and pension provision or access to pensions advice.
A company with a multi-generational workforce will need to address all of these issues while ensuring that all benefits and communications are inclusive and not discriminatory to any section of the workforce.
Having strong inclusion strategies and policies in place will enable everyone to feel part of the workplace, while anti-discrimination policies and actions should be activated to make sure the workforce acknowledges all individuals.
Open communication is really important in a diverse workforce so that everyone feels respected and understands their importance to the business. While the different generations will have different needs and understanding, they all desire respect and recognition.
Creating the company profile and understanding what the issues and needs are, will go a long way to creating an inclusive and happy diverse team. Communication and benefits which demonstrated the value of all employees will go a long way.
Trying to put people into a box because of when they were born, or any other aspect of their lives, is not the way to approach managing a diverse workforce. A personalised and tailored approach will help them all to feel valued.
Brett Hill, Distribution Director – Towergate Health & Protection