Workforces have undoubtedly changed over time and, in recent years, the generational divide has become increasingly prominent. From baby boomers to generation Z—also known as iGen or centennials—several generations are now mixed in the workplace, each having their own skills and strengths, as well as stereotypes. For example, employees of the older generation are, typically, deemed more loyal while the younger generations are increasingly concerned with workplace wellbeing.
The question for employers is how to manage and optimise the strengths of each generation to best suit the needs of the business as well as motivating the individual to best represent the brand. One of the biggest concerns for business leaders is closing the skills gap and the sharing of knowledge between older and younger generations.
Technology has a huge role to play in addressing this challenge, shaping and supporting a blended, multi-generational workforce. Unlike their older colleagues, millennials and generation Z can’t imagine a world without the internet and are motivated by technology. So, considering the ever-evolving, blended nature of the workforce, what can business leaders do to optimise their service delivery, regardless of age or generation, employee or contractor status?
1/ Manage the skills’ mix
Combining the mixed skill sets of several generations into a single team should be the prime objective. The older generation has years of skilled labour and knowledge whereas younger generations have had less exposure to vocational courses and less time in the field. By mixing generations together employees can pass on and teach each other skills and strengths. Establishing an infrastructure that supports knowledge transfer from older to younger and full-time to part-time through management and technology should be high on the agenda of service organisations.
2/ Engage your employees
Typically, younger generations are more tech-savvy than older generations and employers need to use this to their advantage. Employers are having to adopt and integrate an increasing amount of technology to retain their younger workers and business leaders should continue to invest in new technology to entice the new generations entering the workforce while also supporting the older generation, ensuring they are receiving the right training on new technology. In this way business leaders can ensure that millennials are utilising their strengths and are motivated by their environment, while older generations aren’t left behind – and, more importantly, an engaged workforce is more likely to represent the brand in a positive light.
3/ Enable teams through technology
As older generations move away from physical onsite work, introducing technology into the workplace can allow employees to work together and better share knowledge. Using technology, older employees can share their experience without being onsite, while younger generations can learn quickly on the job—gaining experience as they work.
4/ Focus on the flexible workforce
According to The Service Council 76% of service organisations have used third parties for service delivery. With on-demand apps like Fiverr, Uber, Postmates and TaskRabbit paving the way, new definitions, as well as regulations, for the remote, freelance worker or contractor are critical for compliance as well as creating a consistent level of customer service, regardless of resource type.
5/ Create a service marketplace
The concept of service crowdsourcing, creating a network or service marketplace to ensure service elasticity, where the workforce can grow when demand spikes, is a tremendous advantage for business. However, the challenge will be to manage and optimise this virtual network with only a positive impact on service quality and customer experience. Tools that enable visibility and resource location optimisation in this type of disparate workforce will be essential.
The new blended workforce brings sizable benefits to business through its flexible, agile model and also represents a very different management and service challenge over the traditional resource infrastructure. The imperative will be to ensure service and brand consistency, no matter how the workforce evolves, delivered by a mix of visionary thinking, training and technology. In summary, a new mind set as well as a new toolset is the imperative for businesses to bring out the best from the blended workforce in order to win in customer service.