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#GenMobile: Bridging the Workforce Generational Gap

by Jesse Lahey on July 23, 2015

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Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers likely all represent a certain percentage of your employees. While diversity adds value, it also presents challenges when trying to effectively engage multiple generations.

Multiple Methods for Multiple Generations

Many factors influence an employee to gravitate toward one communication method over another. The greatest factor is the person’s generation. After all, technology has dramatically changed with each new era.

  • Baby Boomers had a front-row seat to the Television Age, but grew up clacking on typewriters. Most prefer printed newsletters, brochures, fliers, and postcards.
  • Gen Xers came into adulthood just as AOL was telling the world, “You’ve got mail.” An email, or an intranet article or video, will generally hit the spot for them.
  • Millennials can’t remember a time when mobile phones weren’t in every hand. They’ll share this
    article on social media, plus send five text messages to co-workers, in the time it takes me to remember where I left my iPhone.

A multi-channel approach can help cover each of these bases. Use more than one communication method to increase the likelihood that each employee will notice your message. Furthermore, for people to pay attention to your message, it should connect with them at least three times.

Mobile: Now a Top Communication Channel for All Generations

A multi-channel approach improves effectiveness when communicating across generations. One channel that shouldn’t be ignored is mobile, which has become highly popular with all generations. Consider the following:

  • 90% of American adults own a cell phone; 70% own a smartphone.
  • 97% of smartphone owners use text messaging, making it the most widely used phone feature or app — even more than voice calls!
  • Smartphone owners typically send at least one text per hour during waking hours.

This isn’t just a phenomenon among Millennials; studies show it’s a huge trend for all three generations. And it goes beyond texting. In 2013, 85% of people age 18-29 used their phones to search the Internet; so did 73% of people age 30-49, and 51% of people age 50-64.Pablo for GenMobil post

As a Gen Xer myself, I operate best in a multi-channel world. I’m an email ninja, but for long reads I prefer paper or Amazon Kindle. And yet, for timely information,a text catches my attention most effectively.

Mobile engages even my tech-hating uncle. At a wedding recently, I noticed him reading something on a smartphone and expressed my surprise. “Oh, I don’t know how to use it,” he said with a smile. “But I text all the time.”

The Takeaway

For some uses, mobile has already overtaken desktop. For example, 37% of mobile users already use their phone to access HR communications and tools, compared with 23% who use laptops and desktop computers.

Mobile has become a preferred means of communication (and working) for a large and growing percentage of the workforce, across all generations. For some, this preference for mobile is a more significant factor than their generation, prompting Great Place to Work and others to dub this portion of the workforce “generation mobile.”

A multi-channel communications approach is vital to reach the majority of your workforce — and to reach them at least three times to help the message stick. As more people adopt texting as a primary communication tool, it’s important that you add it to your mix.

see and engage– – – –

TRY IT: To see an example of how text messaging can support your communication strategy, text the word engage to 31996. (You’ll receive an automated text message within a minute or two, plus occasional updates. Message and data rates may apply. Text STOP anytime to opt out.)

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By Jesse Lahey, with Joe Loya and Kelly Skarritt-Williams. Jesse is the host of the podcasts Engaging Leader and Workforce Health Engagement. Jesse, Joe, Kelly, and their other colleagues at Aspendale Communications help mid-size and large employers attract talent, engage employees, and achieve business results. If you know anyone who would benefit from this information, please share it!












PrintMaking the connection between better health decisions and daily energy levels does far more to change employee behavior than telling them about longer-term health consequences.

At most organizations, a workforce health strategy includes communication and education to motivate and equip employees and their families to reduce health risks, improve wellbeing, and prevent the development of serious (and expensive) health problems.

But according to research scientist Tom Rath, the typical health messages aren’t very effective in motivating people on an ongoing basis to make healthier decisions – not even people who already face life-threatening conditions.

Tom is a senior scientist and advisor to The Gallup Organization, where he helps people and organizations reach their potential. Tom was featured in our Workforce Health Engagement episode 2, “Wellness Communication & Education: Which Info & Messages Truly Help?” His previous bestsellers include Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements and EAT MOVE SLEEP: Why Small Choices Make a Big Difference. His newest book is Are You Fully Charged? 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life.

Jesse and Tom discuss why the typical wellness messages aren’t very effective, and share examples of messages that are more effective.

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