I am a “Gen Xer,” and I prefer having my own office, with four walls, as opposed to shared office space. I am also most comfortable with shooting off messages by email rather than picking up the phone. The majority of my bosses, however, belonged to the baby boomer generation, which meant they would rather communicate by phone, if not face-to-face.
Although there are always exceptions to the rule, I have learned to identify and even predict communication styles—by age—not only through my own experiences, but also by attending several educational presentations over the years discussing generational differences in the workplace. For instance, when millennials were first entering the workforce in the early to mid-2000s, I learned that these younger employees prefer collaborative, and often high-tech, team environments. It’s no surprise to me that, a decade later, open-space office environments began trending just as the oldest of this generation approached 30.
Now since baby boomers are retiring and millennials are entering management positions, internal communication professionals are finding that they must adjust how they communicate if they want to engage this new(er) audience. A recent article in Public Relations Journal (“Emerging Issues in Internal Communications: Generational Shifts, Internal Social Media & Engagement.”), published by the Public Relations Society of America, identifies four ways to tweak corporate communications to better reach millennial employees.
Keep emails short According to the report, millennials dislike long emails as a form of internal communication and will most likely delete them before reading.
Use internal social media These social-networking communication channels allow employees to collaborate, share content and comment. Popular platforms include SharePoint, Yammer, Jive and Chatter.
Focus on core values Millennials are not known for company loyalty. The report’s author found that many companies are reinforcing their core values in recruitment campaigns, new-employee orientation and awards programs as a way to increase engagement and commitment in an often fickle employee segment.
Measure employee engagement Don’t just change corporate communication styles and hope for the best. Many companies conduct regular surveys to gauge employee satisfaction with the company, work environment and core values. The surveys help companies refine communication strategies and reduce employee turnover.
The AOE team has helped many associations and organizations identify the best means of communicating with different generations including specialized programs to attract and retain Generation X employees, members and customers. If you need assistance reaching out to and creating more dialogue with your employees, AOE is here to help.