There is a never-ending and well-reasoned focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This is driven not only by societal interest, but by the business-minded ideal that diversity can drive innovation. When people think of the word diversity, traits like race, gender, ethnicity and education immediately come to mind. However, many people overlook the effect and overall benefit of diverse generations in the workplace.
The contact center is one of the few workplace environments I have encountered that is by nature truly diverse and multigenerational. Employees at my company, DialAmerica, come from all backgrounds and socioeconomic profiles. From a stay-at-home parent to a retiree, to a college student, to an ex-Army infantryman, I have worked with unique individuals from all walks of life.
Coupled with the right company culture, the contact center can be a collaborative home for just about anyone – a melting pot that lives the principles of diversity and utilizes them to help employees grow. People who work in the contact centers carry this understanding of diversity and inclusion with them throughout their lives.
When you understand that a diverse, multigenerational workforce can help to drive your business, you will begin to see that each generation of worker can bring something distinctive to your company:
Benefits of a Multigenerational Workforce
Millennials (Age 19-34): While this generation may be perceived as self-absorbed and social-media crazed, they offer great contributions to the workplace. Growing up in an age of advanced technology, they are the ultimate tech junkies – navigating multiple screens, chat functionality and online forums with ease. Not only are they technologically savvy, but they are excellent multi-taskers who are often easily empathetic and understanding of consumers’ service expectations.
When you are a vendor that works with clients from various industries like we do, having workers who can juggle multiple tasks for clients is essential. An added bonus we find in the call center industry is that Millennial workers are comfortable working with assertive sales clients.
Generation X (Age 35-55): Despite the buzz around Millennial workers, if you’re not considering Generation X, you are ignoring 60 percent of today’s workforce. These workers are loyal, experienced, well-educated and can think creatively.
Since most Gen Xers grew up at the beginning of the computer-age, they have become accustomed to the technological landscape and can fluidly integrate with their Millennial colleagues. Yet at the same time, they can easily relate to Baby Boomers’ inexperience with advancing technology. As a result, this generation is very versatile, and that's one of the biggest advantages to hiring older workers in Generation X. In addition, according to an Ernst and Young survey, members of Gen X were cited as the best “revenue generators” among all generations.
Baby Boomers (Age 56-69): As the oldest members of the workforce, Baby Boomers are tough, well-oiled machines and often bring a wealth of experience. In the call center industry, they are reliable customer service representatives who excel at speaking with customers on the phone and take pride in delivering great service.
Through our work with healthcare companies, we’ve seen that Medicare customers respond especially well to our Baby Boomer associates, perhaps because they have aging parents and are considerate of their health care issues.
Although each generation can offer benefits to your company, let’s not forget about the benefits to employees who work with people of varying ages. By having a multigenerational workforce, employees step out of their comfort zones and begin to collaborate with colleagues from all stages of life. Younger hires, who are less experienced when it comes to being in the “real world,” are often open to mentoring advice from workers with more experience under their belt. On the other hand, younger generations are able to teach older workers how to keep up with ever-advancing technology and evolving social norms.
It’s important to understand that a diverse workplace can help your business. In fact, according to an experiment by two professors from the University of Michigan, a random group of intelligent problem solvers will outperform a group of the best problem solvers – proving that diversity can trump ability. When all is said and done, your company must hire employees to match its business needs – the best way to do this may be through hiring a multigenerational workforce.