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Small Business Digest



To Get the Most Out of Workers, Understand Their Concerns

With a history-high unemployment rate and widening gap in the age of company staff, it’s more important than ever that employers are tuned in to the best way to get the most out of their workers.

The workplace is predominately made up of baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, and echo boomers, those born after 1982. Those two groups are so disparate, says Mike Ryan, that companies must tread carefully when addressing their concerns and needs about their personal and career commitments.

Ryan is senior vice president of marketing and client strategy for Madison Performance Group, a firm that specializes in developing customized programs to help companies motivate their workers.  He says that employers must gain insight into the two generations and use distinct communication strategies to encourage their engagement.

“While not nearly as extreme as they were decades ago (think ‘60s ‘Generation Gap’), competing generational values still exist in today’s workplace,” he says. “Understanding them and how they impact employee mind-sets can help businesses and organizations motivate people more effectively.”

For example, when communicating with baby boomers, employers should recognize that many of these employees have years invested in a company and that tenure holds value for them. They are competitive and want their contributions to the company to be duly noted.

In addition, Ryan says, many baby boomers are considering the next phase in their lives and might lose intellectual curiosity in the workplace.

“Show them that their work is still fascinating,” he urges.

Conversely, echo boomers want their employers to recognize, and acknowledge, when they take on new initiatives. They want to feel they are “part of the process,” Ryan says, so this group should be asked to contribute skill sets or a perspective that current leaders may not have.

“Companies should build on their sense of self-reliance and use recognition to reinforce their quest for personal independence,” the marketing executive says.
Employees want to feel they matter, and in turn, they will care more about the quality of their work and about the overall company.

Regardless of what generational category or segment an employee falls into, Ryan says, people like to be recognized.

“Organizations that acknowledge an individual in a manner that fits that person’s value sets carry more weight with the employee.”

Successful companies that are proactive in engaging their employees view good communication as a competitive advantage.

“They use advanced technology as a way to segment messages efficiently. They literally take a ‘direct marketing’ approach to communicating with their employees,” Ryan says.

“As a result, their recognition messages are relevant, in step with the employee’s personal ideals and…effective in reinforcing their employer-employee value proposition.”

For more information, visit the Madison Performance Group Web site at

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