Closing the internal communications ‘generation’ gap

Which generation are you from…..Boomers, X, Y or Z?

Does the generation you were born into shape your preferences for how you like to receive and consume information, how you perceive leaders and how loyal you are to your employer?

This question is one that I’ve often asked myself during my career. Information preference, trust in leadership and organisational loyalty are all key issues for those of us who work in internal communications.  A failure to consider the ‘generation question’ has the potential to create a huge gap in your internal communications approach, your channel strategy and your plans to create employee engagement.

If I think about myself, the answer to the ‘generation question’ is probably – yes. I often buy a print newspaper, watch broadcast news, am more sceptical of the motives of those in authority, have a tendency to want to know what’s in it for me before I commit, and am sometimes uncomfortable with digital communication and social media. OK, you guessed it, I’m somewhere between a late Boomer and Generation X!

Why is this important? Well, anecdotally, I’ve worked in some organisations where a big proportion of the workforce were also from the Boomers and Gen X generations, and some wouldn’t have touched a social media communications channel with a barge pole.  There would have been little point, in that kind of situation, to have relied heavily on social media channels in the internal communications channel mix. The messages simply wouldn’t have got through.

I’m not saying that there is a 100% direct correlation between the generation an employee was born into and their internal communications preference. It’s dangerous to make that kind of generalised assumption when designing an internal communications approach. We are all different and don’t necessarily fit into a specific category. However, it is useful to understand what the broad demographic of your organisation looks like and how this might influence your internal communications channel choices and strategy.

Good internal communications practice starts with a healthy dose of employee insight.  We need to find out who our employees are, what their information preferences are, understand their attitudes to leadership and what drives their willingness to go the extra mile at work. Having this essential information will help you build a more comprehensive and inclusive internal communications approach which provides something for everyone and closes the internal communications gap for all the generations in your organisation.

Martin

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