On January 24, community members and business professionals of the Watertown area joined MBU students, faculty and staff to hear Kay Edwards, President and CEO of Outsight Network, discuss multi-generational work teams.
Edwards began by sharing the problems organizations face when trying to understand their workforce. She contested the organizational assumption that multi-generational teams don’t work well together, to which her response was, “it’s possible.”
Boasting an impressive 25+ years of research on behalf of mission-driven organizations across the country, Edwards referred to her professional research studies, which were conducted from 2013-2017.
Edwards described the differences between the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. She spoke heavily on the Millennial Generation. “Millennials will be the largest generation in the work force…they are also the most educated individuals in the workforce today.”
After explaining the generational differences, Edward’s shared the myths behind the millennial stereotypes. She discussed the rise of social media and its influence on the millennial generation. She also mentioned Millennials’ capability to multi-task in spite of the influxes of current technologies.
Edwards warned, “If we just look at generations as culprits and stereotypes, we run into trouble.”
It’s all about the experience and job satisfaction
Edwards discussed Millennials’ tendency to buy into an experience. She mentioned how brands that offer a customer experience are doing much better in the marketplace than other commodities or good products that lack that customer experience.
In regards to job satisfaction, she identified how flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities are most ideal among Millennials.
Edwards went on to discuss work-life balance; she reported 57% of Millennials consider work-life balance and wellbeing to be very important to them when it comes to choosing a job. (Gallup-Heathway’s Well-Being Index Survey, 2016.)
After explaining the Millennial mindsets, she shared her thoughts on the impact of multi-generational work-teams. Edwards asserted that everyone brings value, no matter what generation they’re born in. “We have a lot of assumptions about our generations. However, you don’t have to act like your generations; in fact, you too could be a Millennial.”
Edwards proposed how to enhance multi-generational workforces:
- Know your employees
- Work together differently
- Share leadership early and often
- Accommodate different learning styles
- Offer flexible work options
- Create ala carte rewards
Near the close of her presentation, Edwards encouraged us to give the Millennial generation an opportunity and a voice. In addition, she challenged us to consider different learning styles.
Edwards provided three practical takeaways.
- You, too, can speak millennial, boomer, generation X, and any other generation
- Our common language is identity, meaning, and purpose
- As leaders, we can create workplaces that inspire collaboration
The breakfast concluded with a question and answer time.