Building and managing an age-diversified and hybrid workforce
With the workforce today made up of more Generation Z employees sharing different beliefs and preferences to their more experienced colleagues, conflicts will invariably arise as generational gaps in the workplace emerge.
To manage this, HR has a critical role to play in creating an environment where people can collaborate and work with one another across generations, said Yvonne Teo, Vice President, HR, Asia Pacific, ADP. Speaking during an episode of HRM TV, Teo added, “It is important to create an environment that encourages cross-generational collaboration and to do that, we need to build an age-diversified workforce.”
With an age-diversified workforce, organisations can encourage and create opportunities for different generations to come together and work on different projects, allowing them to understand and respect one another. Create different team-building programmes that allow collaboration across generations, as well as training programmes where boomers can be mentors to Generation Z and vice-versa, Teo advised.
Managers also need to avoid making assumptions and remove biases and stereotypes, as she explained, “It is important to recognise that there are still individuals at the end of the day, so there has to be a good balance between understanding general tendencies, as well as individual preferences.”
Managing a hybrid workforce
As hybrid work arrangements become more prevalent, challenges are beginning to arise for managers and companies alike.
To begin with, different companies many have different interpretations of what hybrid work entails. “Hybrid work arrangements can mean having a group of employees in the same team working 100% from home, or a mixture of working from home and in the office,” Teo described. “The challenge for managers really is, how do we remove proximity bias? Research has shown that if managers are able to see you in the office, there are more opportunities for promotion.”
Generation Z employees are also breaking the traditional expectations of a 9-to-6 workday, with only 26% wanting a complete return to the office, according to the ADP Research Institute’s People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View study. This, according to Teo, makes the avoidance of proximity bias even more important for all employees to be treated fairly.
“It shouldn’t matter if employees work from home or in the office. We need to help managers set clear expectations, which also help employees collaborate better and be more productive. When offices start to reopen, managers need to consider how to make employees want to return to the office willingly and at the same time, technology plays an important role in enabling people to work from home effectively and productively.”
Regardless of how their hybrid work arrangements shape up to look like, organisations will need to identify the skills requirements of their workforce. Employees at different stages of their careers require different training and although they may have their own preferences on how they are trained, employers need to understand what the training needs of their employees are.
Teo said, “It is important to understand the common characteristics of different generations and deploy appropriate motivators. When it comes to motivators, it may mean different strokes for different folks and while it is important to understand different generational preferences, it is important not to stereotype.”
As expectations and business environments continue to change, organisations also need to help their workforce develop a growth mindset. For instance, while Generation X employees may have many years of experience, they still need to keep themselves updated on the latest changes and technologies in the business environment.
For Generation Z employees, while they may be technologically savvy, they will need to learn about working in an environment with different generations of employees. Managers, on their part, need to understand the different characteristics of generations and motivate employees depending on who they are, and where they are in terms of their experience.
“The training requirements may be different for the different employees based on their levels of experience and it is also important for them to learn how to work together and collaborate,” Teo said.
Planning HR’s roadmap for 2022
With uncertainty brought forth by the pandemic continuing to affect many countries, another priority for managers and HR managers is to start strategising and taking stock of the changing business needs as they head into 2022.
There are three challenges ahead for HR, Teo identified. “The first challenge is deciding the best work arrangement that encourages collaboration and a highly productive environment. Secondly, how can HR build an engaged and motivated workforce amidst the current complex and fluid situation of the pandemic.
“Last but not least, we need to continue to build a culture of inclusivity and diversity and be a company that not only talks the talk, but also walks the talk,” she concluded.
Click here to view the full interview.