Do You Know Your Audience? Bridging the Generational Gaps in Employee Communications


HR professionals, managers, and employees have a new challenge; how to accommodate and appreciate the unique qualities of five generations in the workplace.

For the first time in history, five generations are represented in the workforce, and each brings its own experiences, preferences, wants, and needs. As an employer communicating with a diverse group of individuals, it’s important to know how to communicate effectively despite generational differences or misunderstandings which may exist.

To develop an effective communications campaign, it’s important to understand how each generation has its own unique characteristics and ways of communicating.

The Traditionalists

Traditionalists include those born before 1946. This group is known as the “silent generation” because they generally keep to themselves.

Traditionalists prefer more formal communication and give you their undivided attention. They follow the rules and respect authority and structure. One-on-one communication, such as individual or group meetings and seminars, work well for this generation. They maintain great eye contact and listen closely.

The Baby Boomers

Baby boomers are those born between 1946 and 1964. This generation experienced vast changes during their careers causing them to value flexibility in themselves and others.

Boomers can be outspoken and may wait for an invite before sharing their opinions unless they are closely involved or concerned about a situation. In which case, they’ll share every opinion they have on the topic.

Similar to traditionalists, boomers prefer face-to-face conversations and to be shown how to do things. Since in-person meetings aren’t always practical, consider video tutorials and printed guides or flyers with a step-by-step approach.

Generation X

Generation X members include those born between 1965 and 1976. They’re more in tune to technology than the generation before them and are busy juggling many things in their current stage of life.

This generation doesn’t always have time for face-to-face conversations. Email is an effective communication tool and in-person meetings or emails should be kept short and to the point.

Generation X also appreciates knowing their voice is heard and that they are valued. They enjoy regular feedback and are more likely to express their opinion than the two previous generations, but not to the extent of millennials.

Generation Y (a.k.a Millennials)

Generation Y, or millennials, are those born between 1977 and 1995 and represent the largest group in the workforce. This generation was born with computers in the home and cell phones in their hands.

Millennials are constantly trying to prove themselves to older generations. They appreciate new challenges but will resent anyone who talks down to them. They want to be treated like an equal in the workplace and recognized for their areas of responsibility.

When communicating with millennials, be prepared to explain what you’re thinking – they’ll question you if you don’t. They seek to understand what you see for their future, including developmental opportunities available to them

Millennials seek a fun work environment and prefer email communication and texting. Keep communications short, light, and not too formal. They’re attracted to beautiful, well-designed communications that are visually appealing and easy to digest.

Generation Z

Generation Z was born in 1996 or later. Even though this generation is surrounded by all the latest and greatest technology, they crave in-person communication. While social media feeds their desire to consume information, face-to-face communication fills their need for authenticity.

Since many in this generation were raised by Gen X parents who worked full-time and switched careers, they understand the need to prove themselves and stay relevant in the workforce. As the youngest generation, they know they have a lot to learn and could benefit from mentoring.

Email or text may be the easy method, but this generation is adaptable to other generational preferences, as long as they’re learning. Beautiful images and graphics which look and feel like their favorite social media accounts will capture their attention.

At Communication Partners, we help span the gap in employee communications by creating beautiful, branded products for a range of generations. Contact us today to develop an employee communications plan for your company.

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