Embrace Your Modern Workforce By Focusing On These Four Things

April 08, 2019
Ed Hutner
Sr. Vice President of Human Resources

By Ed Hutner, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Deltek.

Today’s workforce looks dramatically different than ever before due in no small part to its generational diversity. In offices around the globe, a small percentage of the Silent Generation as well as pre-retirement Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and, now, the oldest members of Generation Y, all coexist—each with their own unique skills and challenges.

Each of these five generations has a different approach to a variety of workplace issues, ranging from how they integrate technology into their lives, to how they give and receive feedback, to the types of career challenges they currently face. Business leaders rightly are seeking ways to meet their employees where they are and then build from there to boost engagement, innovation and collaboration.

The result? This mix of backgrounds and experiences is transforming how organizations recruit and develop talent, manage performance, structure teams, and recognize hard work. These programs can be hard to get right—particularly across a global spectrum—but today’s technology industry is seeing firsthand that the rewards can be great for companies who do.

Embracing Generational Diversity

At Deltek, we understand that our financial success is greatly tied to our workplace diversity, including age. We find that having employees with a range of backgrounds, life experiences and leadership skills fuels an open, collaborative environment and leads to increased innovation, creativity and speed in delivery for our customers.

Based on my experience, there are four areas in which any organization can concentrate effort to enhance generational diversity.

Broaden Your Recruiting Scope

In today’s business world, careers are no longer linear. Workers may scale back responsibilities in order to care for children or an ailing parent or spouse, and then return when they are ready to tackle fresh challenges. It is imperative that recruiters and hiring managers alike embrace the journey that brings candidates to your door. This means going beyond standard university recruiting fairs to seek potential employees from a wide range of sources, including industry groups and military veterans. It also means avoiding making generalizations or assumptions about each generation when examining potential candidates.  

Build Teams That Span Generations

Effective teams operate with transparency, effective communication and mutual respect among members. To cultivate positive team environments across generations, managers need to both foster opportunities for employees to share their individual skills and interests, while also engaging in dialogue to find common ground. This might entail using common workplace points of entry, such as team-building and professional development activities. Like careers, learning paths are no longer considered to be linear, creating opportunities for team members to provide cross-generational mentorship regardless of age—both from older employees to younger, and younger employees to older, depending on the skill set.

Manage Motivation & Performance

As I’ve shared in previous blogs, one of the most significant ways your HR organization can support the modern workforce is by making sure that performance management isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Instead, effective performance management should incorporate flexibility, continuous feedback and easy-to-use tools to enable growth. Additionally, it should give employees a range of rewards for hard work that could appeal across generations. This type of process supports an employee at every phase of his or her career, and provides managers with the ability to coach employees along the way.

Cultivate Tolerance

Lastly, having a workplace with so many generations working together, and embracing their differences, means employees of all ages need to feel comfortable communicating openly. Organizations can ensure this by enacting policies that support inclusivity and diversity—ultimately creating a workplace that models tolerance from leadership down.

For global technology organizations, success is tied to having an open, inclusive and diverse workforce, which in turn drives innovation and the ability to meet customers’ needs. By embracing the transformational trend of such a modern workforce, organizations will be able to stay relevant, improve their speed and agility, and, ultimately, compete in the global marketplace.


About the Author

Ed Hutner is Senior Vice President, Human Resources for Herndon-based Deltek, the leading global provider of solutions for project-based businesses. A 20+ year veteran of talent management with a solid foundation built on analytics, technology and education, Ed has a successful record of aligning HR goals with broader strategic plans.Connect with Ed Hutner on LinkedIn.