For both established and burgeoning companies across UK cities, employers are facing new challenges in how they engage their workforce. Companies that take special care to encourage diversity among their employees will find that they must, rightfully, keep up-to-date with new policies, environmental changes, shifting cultures and ultimately employee expectations. This includes engaging employees not only from different backgrounds, but across generations too. This inevitably poses variations in how employers should respond to their workforce.
Embracing the rights of older workers in company structures
As companies refresh and renew their structures, they must pay close attention to their established workforce or new employees who may belong to an older cohort of workers.
Anti-discrimination policies should be embedded into company culture with the Equality Act of 2010 in mind:
- Direct discrimination: Where an employer refuses to offer a job to an older person.
- Indirect discrimination: When a policy, practice or procedure disadvantages an older employee.
- Harassment: When an intimidating, hostile, degrading or humiliating environment is created for those of an older age.
- Victimisation: Where unfair treatment follows an employee who has made a complaint relating to age discrimination.
Engagement with employees begins at the start of the hiring process. Employers are not permitted to include age groups in their job adverts and should avoid phrases that suggest an age group, such as “seeking bright young person” or “established older marketing assistant”.
Once an employee is hired, they are entitled by law to request time off for dependents or ask for flexible working. Not only is this essential for the well-being of an employee, but it can play an important role in increasing productivity, improving retention and boosting morale.
Time off for dependents entails dealing with unexpected emergencies, a breakdown in childcare and or caring for family members who may be unwell. Although employers do not have to pay for this time off by law, some choose to include this in their terms & conditions or their own benefits package – which is a particularly meaningful gesture within the realm of employee engagement.
In terms of flexible working, this can take different forms, including working from home, a temporary contract, part-time timetable, flexi-time or job sharing. Every employee has the statutory right to request flexible working after they have been employed for at least 26 weeks.
To ensure that older workers are engaged, employers should consider a robust, all-encompassing benefits package that may provide, for instance, leisure and high street discounts, as well as legal and financial support – the latter of which are likely to concern older employees with growing personal responsibilities.
Employee engagement within the working environment – whether a work away day or social drinks – must be planned with an active consciousness towards the physical or mental well-being of older employees.
Integrating the millennial generation
Although the “millennial” generation is hot off the press, in reality employers are dealing with Generation X, Generation Z and a range of other age groupings. In a recent report titled ’17 to 70: Managing a multi-generational workforce’ a vast number of respondents, specifically 54% of employers, cited this as their most pressing challenge:
Each different generation speaks its own ‘language’, responding differently to tone, medium and style. Getting your message across requires a deep understanding of your workforce.
This was followed by 15% of respondents who cited the difficult of working with millennials specifically:
Independence and self-direction are central to Millennials’ worldview, as characterized by a growing appetite for contracts that are fixed-term, project-based or time-based. Today’s employers are keen to harness this energy and creativity in a focused, joined-up way, but it can be a struggle for many.
This highlights communication methods as a key focus point for employers, as well as the ability to adapt to the energy and creativity in demand from the workforce.
It goes without saying that meeting this demand is not easy across sectors and roles, but introducing recognition schemes and benefits packages can create custom ways to boost engagement.
Employee recognition structures are adaptable. New research shows that although salaries and bonuses are commonly cited across companies, it can be the recognition of small behaviours and the regular “thank yous” which make the biggest difference. This can include hand-written notes, breakfast treats, celebrating birthdays or educational investment.
In addition, communications tools and benefits packages should include seamless digital use, whether on mobile, tablet or desktop devices. This improves the language employers are using when dealing with the “newer” generations and can create a more lively atmosphere in the workplace and allow individual employees to feel more secure where they are.
Employee engagement has to incorporate a multi-generational approach and the required tools to create a beneficial solution for both employer and employee.
Employee recognition can be one of the best ways to engage your team across the board. Download our free e-book to find out more about how to build an effective engagement and recognition strategy.