From baby boomers to Gen Xers and millennials, today’s manufacturing workplace includes three generations with different sets of values and expectations. If you want to maximize productivity, you should have a workplace that speaks to all three.

Being a well-established workforce, baby boomers are the most likely to be in a manufacturing workplace they are comfortable with. Likewise, Gen Xers share some of the same values as boomers, while tending to be more comfortable with technology.

That leaves millennials. Today’s youngest workers are the most likely to walk into a workplace that doesn’t fit with their values and expectations.

If they haven’t already, manufacturing companies need to take steps to embrace millennials, while not alienating their older workers.

Prioritize passion and purpose

This may sound like an old-school mentality, but today’s youngest workers want to feel that both their job and their company serve an important purpose.

Manufacturing companies can engage their millennial workforce by emphasizing their mission and role in the larger community. That enthusiasm is contagious and when workers believe in your purpose as a company, it translates into higher productivity, a greater sense of community and lower staff turnover.

Embrace technology

Between smartphones and classroom technology, millennials are coming into the workforce with high expectations when it comes to technology. That doesn’t mean you need to buy the latest and greatest gadgets for your workplace – but it does mean it might be time to retire that computer running on Windows XP.

Keep in mind that any technology upgrades you make need to be adopted by the boomers on your workforce. This means backing up technology upgrades with a training plan, robust support and clear lines of two-way communication with older workers.

Using performance metrics and feedback

One of the many benefits of technology is the capacity to measure and quantify performance more precisely. In fact, technology often allows for the tracking of performance in real time.

Companies need to be mindful that this increased tracking ability should be used to support and inform workers. If management focuses too much on missed goals or poor performances, their workers will see technology as a curse instead of a blessing.

Millennials are more likely to appreciate regular and even real-time feedback. Companies should reach out to older generations to show them the benefits of modern tracking and performance metrics.

Implement coaching and skills development plans

Younger workers aren’t focused on landing a pension or solid 401k plan. Instead, they tend to prioritize gaining knowledge, skills and a variety of experiences. And appreciating coaching or professional opportunities isn’t just exclusive to millennials.

When making a skills development plan, remember to include workers at all stages of their career. That might mean allowing the baby boomers on your staff to mentor younger workers, or offering seasoned Gen Xers the chance to expand their knowledge at an industry conference.

At Cornerstone, we have experience working with people from every generation. If your company is looking for an infusion of talent, feel free to contact us today.

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