05 Jan Overcoming Generational Stereotypes: How Multigenerational Mentoring Drives Employee Engagement
Can millennials, Gen Xers, and baby boomers function as a team in the modern workforce? That’s one of today’s most pressing questions for organizations that want to harness the benefits of multigenerational collaboration. In recent years, the millennial generation eclipsed the baby boomers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. By 2025, they’re expected to make up 75 percent of the global workforce. As millennials join their Generation X and baby boomer colleagues in companies across the globe, finding ways to get these three generations to work together effectively is on the mind of every HR team. Each generation brings unique strengths to the table, but they often don’t know how to or don’t want to work together. Multigenerational mentoring changes that.
“It’s no mystery to most people that each generation brings some pretty distinct traits into the workforce,” says Trish Jones, Principal at eMentorConnect. “They don’t always by default appreciate the strengths the other generations typically contribute at work. One of the greatest things multigenerational mentoring does is break down the generation gap between generations by creating a relationship between them.”
“When you get to know your colleagues one-on-one, you humanize them,” she adds. “You realize they aren’t a stereotype but people who have all kinds of strengths, knowledge, and experience that may be different from your own capabilities. It’s an eye-opening experience that helps everyone work more effectively together. It also leads to much higher engagement because employees know their colleagues as people in addition to learning what their capabilities are.”
Employee engagement is a hot-button issue as only about one-third of employees in the United States, and 15 percent of those worldwide, are actively engaged at work. Multigenerational mentoring increases employee engagement which leads to employees staying with their employers for longer periods of time, but it doesn’t happen by default. Organizations must take the initiative to implement a formal mentoring program in order to reap its benefits and improve communication between all four of the generations making up today’s workplace.
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“People are busy,” explains Jones. “Everyone has a day job. Unless an organization creates a mentoring program with a multigenerational objective that pairs participants across generations this kind of mentoring likely isn’t going to happen organically at any scale.”
State the Objective
“You must have an objective,” she adds. “It can be as simple as, ‘we want our employees to broaden their network,’ or ‘we want to curate a multigenerational mentoring program where millennials reverse mentor boomers on digital media,’ but it is important to define and state your mentoring program objective. Knowing what you want to achieve with the program is crucial for success. Once you have a stated objective, you can build the program around the objective by selecting matching criteria for participants and defining the structure of the program to meet your objective. At eMentorConnect, we call this process the four M’s of mentoring: match, manage, motivate, and measure.”
Digital Makes It Much Easier
The best multigenerational mentoring programs also take into account the attitudes, desires, and preferences of the participants and offer a variety of options for connection and interaction. Without willing participants and ease of use, it won’t matter how well structured a program is — it won’t be sustainable. A digital platform provides the flexibility and scalability a mentoring program needs for success.
“Millennials are digital natives,” explains Jones. “They were born during a time when digital technology was ubiquitous. They don’t know life without it. It’s an integral part of everything they do. So they bring into the workforce the expectation that they will have digital technology that supports them in all areas of their career, including mentoring. And, importantly, they choose employers who have easy-to-use mentoring tools to help them find an advocate at work.
“A digital solution like our KNOX® platform gives millennials what they want. It’s intuitive, easy to use, and available on all their devices. Critically, it’s also ideal for program administrators as it makes setting up, running, and scaling mentoring programs seamless. The marketplace data is clear that, in the past, the primary impediment to organizations running mentoring programs was that they were time intensive and hard to scale. KNOX® makes programs easy to run and scale and lets organizations reach populations they may not have been able to reach in the past.”
The more participants there are in a program, the broader the pool of available matches there are between mentor and mentee. Strong matches improve the likelihood of long-term relationships and increase the organization’s ROI from mentoring.
“Organizations sometimes have trouble finding enough mentors,” says Jones. “A digital mentoring platform enables organizations to expand their participant pool because they can enlist participants from throughout their organization, no matter where they are physically located. Effectively enabling your employees to connect with colleagues throughout your organization is a powerful tool. It grows your organization by shrinking the distance between your people. A digital platform like ours lets you meet your employees where they are and makes it easy for them to connect with their colleagues, no matter where in the world they are.”
Ready to experience the value of a digital mentoring platform that engages multiple generations? Schedule a demo today.