Okay, so here’s the tea. And by tea, I mean the inside scoop. This type of potential misunderstanding is exactly why it’s so important to know your audience’s perspective. Right now, there are five generations in the workforce.1 That’s a lot of opinions! So, it’s crucial to understand each generation’s communication preferences and what makes them take notice.
Our perspective is formed during the first 10 to 15 years of our lives. It can be broken down into two main parts: personal and social.
People born within the same chunk of years experience the same chunk of history and craft part of their worldview around those sociological events. For instance, generations who were introduced to phones before caller ID was invented in 1988 may feel it’s appropriate to sign off of emails and even text messages with their names. While generations born after 1988 may feel it’s not needed.
Now, before we get carried away, it’s important to note that generations are determined through consensus.3 Dates and names are proposed, and, over time, people come to a general understanding of a generation. That’s why there will always be cuspers, or people born at either end of a generation, who have characteristics of both groups.2
When it comes to communication, Traditionalists prefer that it be written and that it come from an authority figure,5 whether that’s ensuring information is coming from a trusted public figure or health care providers themselves.
This generation likes their communication to be personalized5 and direct.1 They value personal relationships with their providers2 and appreciate printed mailers or even small, in-person presentations.6
Gen Xers’ communication preferences can be summed up in one word: efficient. This generation wants communication that is to the point and contains strong visuals.5 A great way to do this is with websites that have direct links to resources or emails with graphics.
One of the largest groups of people within the workforce is the Millennials, born between 1980 and 1996. Also known as Gen Y, this generation is 26 to 41 years old4 and makes up 35% of the U.S. workforce.1
Millennials prefer communication that is received through technology5 and is convenient.7 For instance, text messages, a website, or social media. They want ample amounts of accessible information and usually seek out peer advice.3
Gen Z is starting to enter the workforce now. This generation is defined by people born between 1997 and 2012. People in this generation are 10 to 25 years old4 and, at 5%, make up a little bit more of the workforce than Traditionalists.1
|Most of the workers in this generation are still on their parent’s health care plan, and, therefore, most of Gen Z gather information about benefits from their parents.8|
While Gen Z is said to be the most tech-savvy generation,8 this doesn’t mean their preferred mode of communication is always online. When it comes to their professional lives, surprisingly, they prefer face-to-face communication. For digital modes of communication, Gen Z favors text messages or email over social media. This stems from their desire to keep their personal and professional lives separate.
The truth is, there isn’t one channel that’s liked by every generation. Baby Boomers might like to attend a webinar, while Gen X would rather browse a website when they have the time. The key to this problem is to communicate to your employees through multiple channels and allow them to engage in the mode that best suits them.5
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Bella Giannetti is an Associate who helps create, manage, and deliver targeted, thoughtful employee communications for several large clients.