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Multigenerational Communication

While dissecting the Millennial mindset is an oft-discussed topic, the fact is that each generation has its own unique set of attitudes and behaviors. If your organization reflects today’s multigenerational society, you’re facing an unprecedented challenge: How do you communicate with your increasingly diverse constituency? Let’s take a closer look at each generation’s communications preferences, along with one key strategy for navigating this tricky terrain.

Getting to Know Your Constituents

For the first time in American history, the workplace comprises four distinct generations: the Silents, the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennials. Each group’s outlook, attitudes, habits and expectations have been shaped by its collective set of experiences and backgrounds. And while intergenerational differences can be seen across everything from money management to housing preferences, perhaps they’re no better highlighted than by how they choose to communicate. The first step in determining a comprehensive communications strategy? Identifying generational disparities.

Let’s start with the Silent Generation (dubbed so by Time Magazine because they were generally known to work very hard and keep quiet). Made up of 55 million individuals born roughly between the years of 1925 and 1941, Silents came of age during the Great Depression and are characterized by their ambition, patriotism, and financial attentiveness. Now mostly retired, this generation is known for being extremely cautious, loyal and team-minded. While many prefer face-to-face and phone interactions, they have also amped up email usage in recent years.

The massive Baby Boomer Generation, consisting of roughly 76 million people born between 1942 and 1964, is known for its creativity and it’s youthful opposition to authority. Like their preceding generation, the Silents, Baby Boomer adults are known for their keen relationship skills and prefer more “personal” interactions, including face-to-face and telephone contact. However, Baby Boomers have also been quick to adapt digital in recent years, including everything from email to texting.

Following the Baby Boomers comes Generation X. While widely viewed as “slackers,” in their youth (Reality Bites, anyone?) this comparatively pint-sized generation of 50 million are now known for their independence, informality, and distrust of rules. They’re also the first generation to be completely at ease with technology which explains their love for communicating via all things electronic.

Last come the mighty 80-million Millennials (formerly known as Generation Y). Born between 1981 and 1984, Millennials— who now make up the largest segment of the American labor pool—are known for their optimistic attitudes and “sharing” culture. They’re also the only generation to have completely grown up in the technological world, with computers, cell phones, the internet, and social media an inherent part of their existence. It’s not surprising, therefore, that this technology-dependent generation prizes instant access when it comes to how they communicate.

Bridging the Gap with Multimodal Messaging

Growth is a necessary part of organizational wellness, but it also presents new challenges—particularly when it comes to communicating with the changing demographics of your team. And while a successful communication strategy can go a long way toward advancing your mission and engaging your constituents a poor communication strategy can have an opposite—and unwanted—effect. Unfortunately, the latter is an all-too-common issue for many organizations which fall victim to two common pitfalls: inundating constituents with unnecessary or irrelevant content and using inadequate or unreliable communication methods to deliver your message. The matter is further complicated by the fact that—as discussed earlier—terms like “unnecessary,” “irrelevant,” “inadequate,” and “unreliable” are largely subjective depending on a person’s background.

Ultimately, how we communicate is a critical component in nurturing relationships. Can the different generations be optimally served by a single method of communications? Probably not. But they can be served by a savvy communication strategy: multimodal messaging.

Think of it this way: How can you simultaneously satisfy a Silent generation member who prefers to communicate via telephone and may not even have a cell, text or use the internet with a Millennial who strongly prefers to communicate via social media and texting and for whom a phone call may be an annoyance?

The answer may be simpler than you realize. Rather than trying to please all of the generations through one approach, employ a multimodal strategy which defers to the individual needs of each.

Mass Notification Services Reach Across the Generations

Today, savvy solutions exist for organizations looking to more meaningfully meet the needs of their constituents. Rather than delivering your message through a one-size-fits-all approach and hoping it makes its way to the intended recipients, notification services like Send Word Now guarantees optimal delivery outcomes by letting recipients determine exactly how they’ll receive a message. These preferences—including voice calls, text messages, and emails—are pre-set into the Send Word Now system to ensure prompt and accurate receipt.

But mass notification functionality doesn’t end there. In these busy times, we all know how it feels to have our time wasted on matters which may not directly concern us. Services like Send Word Now also lets you target specific groups to receive certain messages. Not only does this save time and energy on the sending and the receiving end, but it also boosts engagement by ensuring that only relevant information is conveyed.

The takeaway? While intergenerational management is complex, getting your message across—in the most literal sense—doesn’t have to be. In enlisting the aid of a mass notification service as part of your comprehensive communications strategy, you ensure your messages are delivered to the multigenerational members of your organization in the most efficient, effective way.