How to Engage Boomer and Gen X Frontline Employees

How to Engage Boomer and Gen X Frontline Employees

23 September 2021

News & trends | Employee Experience

Millennials and Gen Z may be streaming into the workplace in herds, but Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and Gen X (born 1965-1979) are still very much a noticeable presence in the labor force. A Ranstad study predicted that Boomers and Gen X would still make up 44% of the global workforce by 2025.

This is almost half of your employee base. So you can’t afford to neglect them when it comes to engaging frontline employees.

But what do Boomers and Gen X want from their employers?

This post will guide you through how to engage older generations and give them the employee experience that they deserve.

Related: Gen Z and Millennial Frontline Employees Feel Unfulfilled: Here’s How to Fix It

 

Where do employers go wrong?

Stereotyping is dangerous.

One of the biggest mistakes that employers make when it comes to engaging with their older generations of employees is assuming they are technophobes.

88% of Baby Boomers agree that technology has helped them during the COVID-19 pandemic and over three quarters of Boomers say that they enjoy trying new and unfamiliar technologies.

Engaging Boomer and Gen X employees is about putting the right tools in place to create an employee experience that they will find most fulfilling, and a large part of this involves tossing out the idea that they don’t want to engage with tech.

Now that the big stumbling block is out of the way, here are the things that you do need to do:

 

Give them autonomy

Many have been in the same role or industry for a long time. They won’t respond well to change if they can’t see the benefit or feel micromanaged. 

Make their jobs as easy as possible by digitizing admin processes like daily checklists and stock reports and highlighting exactly how this benefits them with a reduced workload. Digitizing time-consuming tasks like these gives employees more time to spend on the tasks they feel are more valuable, like interacting with customers.

Gen X and Boomer employees tend to be more experienced than younger workers (although not as a rule), so if they are able to spend more time on non-admin tasks then both customers and colleagues will feel the benefits of this expertise.

 

Offer them control over their learning

Autonomy should also extend to learning. Boomers and Gen X will appreciate being able to learn in a self-directed way.

Using mobile learning which employees can complete as and when they choose to will work well, as learners have the autonomy to fit learning into their day where it best suits them. 

Bitesize learning that can be pushed out rapidly means that employees will have lots of learning to engage with and can start with the courses that seem most exciting to them, giving them control over what they learn.

 

Highlight the positive impact

A key similarity between Boomers, Gen X and the younger generations is the nature of their career goals. A study by IBM found that a shared characteristic across generations was the desire to make a positive impact and help solve social challenges.

This means that engaging employees of any age involves highlighting the value of their work. You can do this by using company communication channels to share positive customer reviews, provide shout-outs to the best performing teams and publicly recognize those who have gone the extra mile.

 

Connect them to their peers

41% of Millennials report that it's difficult to advance within their fields because Boomers are waiting longer to retire. 

This indicates that there are generational tensions within the workplace, which will prevent employees from working cohesively as a team. This is evidenced by the fact that 34% of frontline employees feel disconnected from the wider company.

Giving employees the tools to feel connected to the organization will encourage a stronger sense of community and keep employees in the loop. A digital space where employees from different teams and locations can share news, opinions and celebrate successes connects employees and cultivates a sense of belonging. 

 

Draw on their experience

Only 41% of workers aged over 54 find it easy to understand whether their work meets company expectations. Employees who feel undervalued will not be motivated to perform their best. As an employer, you need to demonstrate that you recognize and value the decades of work experience which they bring to the table as more mature generations. 

Regularly ask for their opinions and feedback. 

But this doesn’t mean send them lengthy questionnaires or subject them to a time-consuming feedback interview. A simple and painless way to integrate collecting employee input into the working day is to use mood scales, digital feedback boxes and forums to encourage reflection and discussion around what could be improved. 

Digital forums also provide older employees with a space to share their knowledge and guidance with employees who are less experienced, which is not only fulfilling for them but also improves the skills of the team as a whole.

To find out what your employees really want from you in 2021, based on a survey of 1,000 frontline employees, download the Frontline Employee Workplace Survey here!

2021 State of the Frontline Employee Workplace Survey Download

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