Embracing New Technology in a Multi-Generational Workplace

There’s no denying the challenges that come with rolling out new technology in a multi-generational workplace.  With most organizations consisting of four generations – Veterans (born before 1946), Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1965-1980), and Millennials (born after 1981) – management must consider both the technology needs of their business as well as their users’ generational differences.  Each generation brings its own unique approach to technology and communication as well as training preferences and learning styles.

To ensure a high adoption rate, consider the following before rolling out new communications technology.

Offer a Variety of Learning Methods

There are distinct differences in training preferences between generations.  Millennials, who grew up using the Internet, tend to gravitate toward tech-based education and also thrive in team environments.  That makes them the perfect candidates for online learning in team-based environments.  Generation X shares many of these preferences, but prefers working independently than in teams.

On the other hand, Baby Boomers and Veterans grew up in the traditional classroom, so scheduled group hands-on workshops are best.

Embrace Reverse Mentoring

In most cases, more experienced employees have mentored newcomers, sharing their knowledge and expertise on everything from organizational processes to leadership skills.  However, younger generations now have the knowledge and expertise related to technical skills that their more senior colleagues need.

With a better understanding of the nuances of the digital era, Millennials can be tapped to help Generation Xers and Baby Boomers integrate new forms of communications, including web chat, social media, and web conferencing into their workday.

Establish a Blended Communications Program

With multiple generations in the workforce, you can’t assume everyone will embrace new communication tools immediately.  Instead, plan to deliver news, updates and training programs using a variety of channels.  For example, short updates via web chat will catch the attention of your Millennials, while instructions via email are usually preferred by Baby Boomers.

So, when introducing new technology to the workplace, be sure to consider the generational differences within your organization and adapt your rollout, communication, and training programs to accommodate the needs of each generation.  Still, it’s important to remember that the purpose is to increase adoption across the entire enterprise.  The end goal of the steps above is to help all generations embrace and use the same communications tools.