Today, the generation gap inside the contact center is more complex than ever, putting tremendous pressure on supervisors who can’t employ a one-size-fits-all approach to managing. Even though multi-generational staff may perform the same roles, treating every agent the same way can have undesirable effects, creating difficulty in a diverse workforce.
In addition to Gen-Y (born between 1981-2000) and Gen-X (born between 1965-1980) who make up the majority of the workforce today, Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964) still represent a sizable group. Lastly, Traditionalists (born on or before 1945) still comprise 5% of the US workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So, how can you manage employees from such different backgrounds, each with a differing value set? That’s the challenge. Experts suggest looking for commonalities between the groups. For example, respect (it’s not just an Aretha Franklin song). Everyone wants to be respected, though the way in which people are trained, recognized, and rewarded varies. By understanding the different values each generation brings to bear, you can tailor a different approach for different groups.
Doing so means re-thinking the rigid framework some managers choose to employ, instead giving them some discretion. For example, giving employees a choice in how they want to be communicated with, the generational differences being reflected in their preference. Or, giving agents flexibility in their interactions with customers. Though you want consistency in the script that agents follow, you can leverage the differences in their respective approaches by allowing them to be more comfortable and natural with customers.
Here are a few other ways your call center can motivate a multi-generational workforce:
- Teach everyone the importance of emerging technologies (like social media). Don’t exclude groups because you think they might not see the value.
- Create opportunities for everyone to advance – not just a particular group. Also consider utilizing the strengths of different employees for coaching purposes.
- Allow flexibility in the workplace with respect to technology, environment and schedules. Utilize the strengths of each group where possible.
Remember: a motivated workforce is your most valuable asset. Always be looking to give employees the tools to make your business a success.
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