communicating across generations

 

With four generations coming together to share the workplace—where Millennials are now the largest generation and will comprise 75% of employees by 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics—it’s no wonder we as communicators struggle to find a balance when communicating complex information.

The good news? The generational divide may not be as wide as once thought. For instance, it’s true that Baby Boomers want complete information up front, with lots of details. And it’s true that Millennials lack patience to read blocks of text.

But it’s also true that Baby Boomers are no less pressed for time than their Millennial counterparts, who grew up expecting quick, bite-sized snippets of information.

So how do we tailor communication efforts to best fit the needs of time-pressed employees, while also providing a deeper dive for those interested? Here are three ideas:
 

  Why it works for Millennials Why it works for
Boomers

Limit your word count

Try cutting back 30 to 40% of your initial word count and scrap the rest. Remember, less is more!

  • Reduces the amount of reading required
  • Conveys messages at a glance
  • Aligns with this generation’s expectations for receiving short bursts of information
  • Saves time
  • Provides at-a-glance information

Make it visual

Wherever possible, use charts, graphs, tables and imagery in place of text.

Nothing communicates better than compelling imagery.

  • Grabs attention
  • Quickly communicates the story
  • Creates an experience of instant gratification
  • Grabs attention
  • Quickly communicates the story
  • Creates an emotional connection

Use a mix of channels

One size does not fit all when it comes to generational preferences. So provide variety and choice.

  • Puts control in the employee’s hands
  • Posters, plasma screens and email blasts appeal to the need for instant gratification
  • Offers the option to learn more
  • Navigable intranet sites provide in-depth information
  • Print or printable pieces appeal to the need to read

 

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