Effective Strategies for Career Conversations Across Generations

Supporting Career Development for a Multi-Generational Workforce: Strategies for Engaging Talent Through Career Conversations

Summer brings a change in work dynamics with new graduate hires onboarding, interns completing their orientation trainings, general ongoing hiring across the organization, and of course mid-year reviews. From a budding college student eager to learn a new industry to mid-career professionals working towards their next promotion, it can be difficult to inform motivation, performance, and retention across a diverse intergenerational workforce. Some industries are experiencing this more than others, but a number of sources, including Gallup, showcase that Gen Z and Millennials make up ~46% of the full-time U.S. workforce. Additionally, there’s been a shift in what the younger, Gen Z workers value in their employers:

  1. The organization’s leadership is ethical
  2. The organization cares about the wellbeing of its employee’s
  3. That the organization is diverse and inclusive of all people

This reinforces that a one-size fits all approach will be less successful when working to boost engagement. So how can you support greater career satisfaction and performance for a diverse workforce? A good starting point are Career Conversations! Career conversations largely focus on career development and can come in the form of an annual or mid-year review, it can also be a part of onboarding meetings, a 90-day check-in, and even regular meetings. Implementing the right management style and communication approach can ensure productive conversations across personalities and work styles.

Here’s a quick refresher of what constitutes which generation and their known motivators:

Baby Boomers1946-1964– Clear hierarchy and structure
– Opportunities for mentoring
– Good retirement benefits
Generation X1965-1980– Flexible schedules
– Remote work options
– Monetary rewards over recognition
Millennials1981-1996– Frequent feedback
– Professional development
– Alignment with values
– Remote flexibility
Generation Z1997-2012– Competitive pay and benefits
– Career advancement opportunities
– Investment in skills training
– Work-life balance

When approaching a Career Conversation, there are different goals depending on what stage the person might be at in their career trajectory. Your Gen Z workers will likely be curious about opportunities for career advancement and your Baby Boomers might be looking for more opportunities to connect to meaning, impact, and legacy.

It is always best to lead with a Coaching Mindset for these conversations. This approach will more directly help you identify the route of what matters in their career and how you can facilitate the next step.

Here are a few examples on how to apply a Coaching Mindset in Career Development Conversations:

Mid-Year Review with a Baby Boomer: What brings you meaning in your work at this stage in your career? What would it mean for you to feel like you’ve ‘left your mark’ at the organization?

Onboarding a Gen X Candidate: How do you define a successful career at this stage in your life? How can our organization support you in meeting or achieving your next career goal? Can you give me an example of a time where you felt appreciated at work? Tell me more about your ideal work environment! What schedule would set you up for success as it relates to work/life integration?

Mid-Year Review with a Millennial: When you think of your ideal professional development opportunities going into this second half of the year, what does that look like for you? What would having a more ideal work schedule look like for you? What about our organizational values and your daily responsibilities connect most to your values? What could be added to create deeper alignment?

Exit Interview with a Gen Z Intern: When you look back at your experience, how does it inform what you might do in your future career? What values did you most connect to in the organization and how did you see it in action this summer? What is one thing that would’ve made your experience more beneficial towards your personal career advancement?

Simply creating a touchpoint for one-on-one conversations can be enough for some employees to feel supported. As a next step, create ongoing touch points throughout your employee’s experience at your company and make sure the conversations are not boiler plate. Lastly, taking a moment to appreciate the difference across your multigenerational workforce can create deeper and more meaningful conversations. This will further culture building, engagement, and employee satisfaction across levels of the company, stages in one’s career, and ages in their life.

Interested in learning more about how to build resiliency in your organization through career conversations, outplacement services, or leader transformation? Reach out to our team today for more best practices and HR solutions.

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