Today’s workforce is very different than the workforce of twenty years ago.There are five generations working side by side. Each generation has different expectations, values and work styles. Traditionalists and baby boomers prefer face to face communication while millennials prefer email and texting. In addition to a wide variety of ages, the workforce is also culturally diverse, globally aware and select employees are working remotely.
There are so many benefits to leading a diverse workforce. Different people bring different ideas to the workforce which is crucial to solving problems. Diversity also stimulates creativity and innovative thinking. Older workers have so much experience while younger workers have so much technological know how.
There are also so many challenges to leading a diverse workforce. First of all, there is no such thing as a one size fits all approach to managing diverse employees and creating a motivating work environment. So, what’s a leader to do? Here are a few tips to increase employee engagement which should work for everyone.
Encourage lifelong learning
It’s almost impossible to know everything about every culture and every person. We don’t even know how much we don’t know. When you have an employee, who is from another country, take the time to get to know that employee. Ask the new employee questions about their culture and educate your co-workers about the new employee.
Communicate performance expectations Every employee has a job to do. It doesn’t matter if the employee is young, old, remote, a minority or a parent. The job is the job and performance expectations for the job should be clear cut. If the job requires weekly international travel, the employee needs to know that requirement of the job before accepting the position. A new parent might not agree to a position that requires extensive travel.
Hold employees accountable
Every employee is accountable for performing their job.
Ask for input
Employees are motivated for their reasons, not for your reasons. If you are trying to figure out how to create a motivating work environment, you must learn what motivates each of your employees. One employee might be motivated by receiving challenging work assignments and another employee on the same team is motivated by getting free lunch every day.
Remote employees need to feel included as part of the team. Being able to see them is huge. Use zoom, skype or any other platform for videoconferencing.
Provide developmental opportunities
Every employee should be asked, where do you want to be in five years? Where do you see your career going? How can I help you get where you want to be? Traditionalists and baby boomers tend to be very loyal to the same employer, younger workers expect to have many employers. If you have a fabulous young workforce, providing developmental opportunities is key to retaining your workforce.
Be a role model
Respect is the key to managing and motivating a diverse workforce. As the manager, you set the tone. Be a role model for professional, appropriate behavior. If you observe any inappropriate behavior (jokes, pranks, touching) at work, intervene immediately.
Celebrate and build your team
There is always something to celebrate at work; birthdays, holidays, meeting deadlines, etc. Celebrating builds positive morale which results in increased employee engagement. Increasing employee engagement contributes to team building and productivity. Productive teams are responsible for the success of your organization.
The best leaders are the best listeners. Your diverse workforce will tell you what you need to know and do in order to increase engagement. Your job is to listen to them.