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The Challenges of Scheduling a Multi-Generation Workforce
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The Challenges of Scheduling a Multi-Generation Workforce

For the first time in history, there are now five generations working side-by-side. Generation Z (born after 1997) is leaving college and entering the workforce and Traditionalists (born before 1946) are still contributing. This broad range of experiences is great for a dynamism and getting a different perspective but can create challenges for managers.

Managing a multi-generational workforce requires understanding the needs and working styles of employees born over fifty years apart. Over the past five decades technology has revolutionized the way we work, but that’s not all that’s changed—so have values. Different generations have different expectations about things like feedback and career development but will likely also differ when it comes to more fundamental questions about acceptable work life balance.

Generational Challenges

Generational issues can pop up in any aspect of management, from office design to communication style. But let’s consider something basic—scheduling a multi-generational workforce. Those of different generations may have different preferences regarding when they work, how they are informed of their schedules, and how much flexibility they expect.

Designing a staff scheduling process that helps both a technology-resistant Traditionalist and a smartphone-addicted Gen Z intern feel comfortable isn’t easy, but incorporating five generations into the workforce often means coming up with creative compromises. The good news is, staff scheduling software can help.

Avoiding Communication Breakdown

The right software helps make the process quicker, more efficient, and error-free—but creating schedules is just the first step. The bigger issue is how best to communicate the schedule to your multi-generational workforce. The thing is, different generations are used to receiving information in different ways.

The old-fashioned approach might be to print it out and pin it on the wall. While this might appeal to the technology averse, to the ‘snapchat generation’ it may well seem like something from the middle ages —they’d have a point, since this if there’s a late change to the schedule, it has to be communicated through some other method anyway.

Phone calls are also a non-starter—no matter the size of your staff, it’s just inefficient. So we’re left with email, SMS or smartphone notification. The best answer: use all three methods. With staff scheduling software employees can choose their preferred communication style to receive their schedules. There’s a solution for those who don’t own smartphones, for those who consider emails outdated, and for everyone in between. (Of course, printing out physical schedules is still an option.)

The Power of Shift Reminders

Some stereotypes are true—older generations tend to be more punctual. In fact, Boomers are a whopping 50% more likely to never be late for work than Millennials, according to YouGov polling. However, tardiness among young employees isn’t necessarily cause for concern. Paycor research shows that shift reminders can reduce no shows and cut lateness by 14%.

The key is, with staff scheduling software you (or employees themselves) can choose who receives reminders and how often. Traditionalists and Boomers—and, hey, even Gen X—may consider themselves self-starters who don’t need to be bombarded with alerts before their shift starts. Younger staff who rely on their phones to tell them where to be and when can choose to receive as many shift reminders as they need.

Offering Flexibility

The world of work is changing—and opinions are changing with it. Gen Y and Z are the gig economy generations, brought up in a world of constant connection, where work can take place anywhere, any time. So, it’s no surprise that younger employees have high expectations when it comes to workplace flexibility and work life balance. They tend to value these more highly than even job security, according to YouGov polling.

How does this affect staff scheduling? It means that while older generations may be content with receiving a schedule without complaint, employees from Gen X and Y expect to have more say. Not long ago, catering to the needs of everyone might’ve been a challenge—now, staff scheduling software can help. The key is the ability to offer a parallel solution: schedulers can create open shifts which employees can select from and allow for easy shift swapping for those who seek more flexibility—but any staff who consider this (or technology generally) too much hassle can simply be assigned shifts. This way, you empower employees with as much flexibility as they want, without forcing it upon them.

Bottom Line

Scheduling employees is just one of the challenges of managing a multi-generational workforce—but it’s essential to get it right. Paycor Scheduling software can help you create more efficient schedules in less time, while informing and empowering staff of all generations. Learn more about Paycor Scheduling.

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