Employee Engagement in a Multigenerational Workplace
Knowing where to invest culture dollars should be your #1 priority

Employee Engagement in the Multigenerational Workplace

We have all heard the jokes. Gen Z doesn’t want to work. Millennials want kale smoothie bars in the kitchen. Boomers can’t convert from Word to PDF. Gen X sits back and watches all the other generations go at it.

The reality is, companies with great culture find ways to include and embrace workers of all ages. The companies that value generational diversity are rewarded with a happier, more productive workforce. Research has found that diverse workforces are 35% more productive.

In customer service, generational diversity helps with understanding and communication. In mentorship and professional development, generational diversity means younger employees see the example that older employees set. In problem solving of any kind, generational diversity brings more opinions and perspectives to the table.

Having a multigenerational workplace can present challenges too. Particularly in communications and employee engagement, workers from different age brackets might not be motivated with the same messaging. In fact, the same email from the CEO could be read completely differently. If the CEO says in an email that the company is going to make a technological leap, your younger employees might hear “more opportunities for growth,” while your older employees hear, “I’m about to be downsized.”

Creating a great culture means engaging every employee, regardless of if they grew up on TV sets, flat screens, or iPads.

Communication Breakdowns

One way to promote employee engagement in the multigenerational workplace is to focus on open communication. Organizations should foster a culture of strong dialogue and provide multiple outlets for employees to share their perspectives and questions.

Provide multiple channels for feedback, such as an anonymous suggestion box, office chat bots, survey feedback, and open forums. These channels should be open to all to ensure everyone has a voice.

The broadest communications — such as emails from executives or town halls — should aim to include everyone. Use a clear, direct voice, free from lingo that may fall flat with certain audiences. Older audiences probably don’t know what you mean if you say “This quarter’s pipeline is off the chain.” Younger audiences probably don’t know what you mean if you say “Our sales team has more hits than Smokey Robinson.”

For individual managers and teams, multigenerational communications means meeting your employees where they are. Some folks may prefer phone calls to Slack messages. Others may keep a physical calendar at their desk rather than a digital one. The important thing is to get to know each individual and cater your communication appropriately — which should be your goal anyway.

Two Major Chasms: Technology and Family

The two most common gaps in a multigenerational workplace are technology and raising kids.

From a technology standpoint, the multigenerational workforce often has different ideas about how digital tools should be used. Younger workers might prefer to communicate via in-app messaging channels, while older workers might prefer to communicate via email or phone. To bridge the gap, companies should have a clear policy on tech usage, as well as offer training for everybody to ensure everyone is comfortable with the same tools.

The younger generations have grown up with iPhones and the Internet. They tend to pick up new technology faster (but not always — shout out to the tech savvy boomers out there). Don’t give up on the older generations. Give them the opportunity and training to pick up new tech and you might be surprised at how great it goes.

The other big generational gap is in raising kids. Baby boomers and Gen Xers now have adult-aged children, while millennials are entering their prime parenting years, the groups often find themselves on different ends of the “family” spectrum. To bridge this gap, organizations can offer policies such as remote work and flexible hours. If anyone has empathy for the struggles of trying to work while having young children, it is the generation that has already gone through it.

When you offer new parents more perks and benefits, you might think that the Gen Z employees without kids see the extra time off and flexibility as unfair. However, Gen Z is making mental notes about how your company treats parents in your workforce so they can decide where they want to work when it is their turn to raise a family.

Rewards in a Multigenerational Workplace

You might not expect it, but rewarding your employees can be one of the biggest areas of disconnect between age groups. The typical behavior of buying gift cards for rewards and incentives might seem like an easy win, but even the most popular stores and restaurants lean towards different areas of the age spectrum. A Home Depot gift card might seem like a universal gift, but it doesn’t mean much to your Gen Z accountant who lives in an apartment. An iTunes gift card might seem easy, but it doesn’t move the needle for your Boomer account manager who only listens to vinyl.

Luckily, you don’t have to spend time guessing the perfect gift card for each employee every time you want to give out a reward. There is one reward that every generation agrees on — cash. Give your employees what they want anyway and let them decide on how to spend their reward. Remember that the next time you set up a sales contest, a training program, or are picking out holiday gifts.


There are many factors that influence employee loyalty but Whistle is the first employee loyalty app specifically designed for that purpose. By leveraging Whistle and integrating with other programs, Whistle can help companies improve both their top and bottom line.

In a recent case study, Whistle helped a manufacturing company reduce turnover by 26% in just 90 days through a redesigned onboarding program. Whistle’s employee loyalty app brought the company’s on-boarding process into the digital age and put it in every employee’s pocket. Employees raved about the mobile-first experience and cash reward system. 

Companies are using Whistle to help people-managers improve relationships with their direct reports, rethinking incentives and rewards, and even changing their approach to culture – building a more inclusive workplace and helping to attract quality candidates.

Contact us for a free demo and better understand how much you can improve employee loyalty when using an employee loyalty app!

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