Gen X, Y, Z in the House - Fine-tuning Internal Communication for Different Generations

A good, enjoyable, and meaningful dialogue around a big family table can only be achieved if the interests and needs of all ages are taken into account. This is no different in workplace communities. To enable several generations to work together effectively, it is also important to balance the preferences of different age groups in internal communication. Let's look at how we can sit down at the big virtual table in our company and make internal communication a success when several generations work together.

In most cases, work communities are made up of colleagues from different generations. Successful intergenerational collaboration is essential for an effective business. We know that the creativity, fresh approaches, and perspectives of the younger generation can bring a new impetus to companies. And of course, the experience and routine of older people are essential for a truly successful, effective team and long-term results.

Xs: live, personal, direct communication

Now aged between 45 and 60 (born between about 1965 and 1980), Generation X has had a front-row seat to technology taking communications to supersonic speeds. At the same time, they are also comfortable (some downright comfortable) with traditional methods, having lived in a world without personal computers, smartphones, and the internet for much of their lives.

This age group is comfortable using digital platforms and is not averse to technology, but they place personal and face-to-face communication on a much higher shelf. Live meetings, personal feedback, printed documents, directly addressed tasks, opinions and even phone calls and emails are much more important to them. They are extremely independent, but constructive feedback is highly valued.

In internal corporate communication, Generation X can be better mobilized through live, personal (offline) methods and channels. It is therefore worthwhile to mix digital and traditional forms cleverly - whether it's delegation, feedback, or even social, more informal topics.

Ys: teamwork, transparency, goal-oriented communication

Members of the millennial generation (those born between about 1981 and 1995), i.e. those who came of age during the first part of the millennium, are now aged 29-44. It's a slight exaggeration to say that this generation is the first to have grown up in the digital age, with technology as an integral part of their lives, an inseparable companion. As such, the use of digital devices is now completely natural for them. Chat applications have opened up new horizons in terms of communication, and social media has been fuelled by this generation. So they were the first to have a whole new set of digital communication tools at their disposal.

Generation Y was confronted with a flood of information in which an increased need for transparency naturally developed. As well as the need for a convergence of knowledge and skills, this age group is also very much in touch with the need for a new generation. Teamwork is very important to them, as is how they as individuals can contribute to the big common goals - and how they can be entrusted with responsible decisions by their employers.

Communication strategies for this age group should therefore include frequent feedback and recognition of both individual performance and the success of teamwork. They are most effectively addressed through transparent, goal-oriented communication on internal digital platforms and channels.

Zs: short, fun, immediate

Also known as Zoomers, they were born between 1996 and the first half of 2010: they are Gen Z, Generation Z. Some of them are still in school, of course, but a significant proportion have entered the labor market in the last ten years - the generation now in their twenties or so - and they keep coming. (There are many versions of the term 'zoomer': the term certainly resonates with the baby boomer generation born between 1946 and 1964, but there is also a theory that the shared experience of COVID zoomer contact with lockdowns plays a part.) Understanding and addressing Generation Z is one of the most topical challenges facing employers today, from recruitment through the entire employee lifecycle.

At best, this generation may have vague memories of a world before the internet, mobile phones, social media, and apps. When they were born, these innovations were ready and waiting for them, so they are used with great naturalness and virtually all the time. For Generation Z, time has become instantaneous, location has become fully flexible (working remotely), and their need for technology, interaction, and visual stimulation is extraordinary.

Digital (and therefore, of course, instant) access is therefore absolutely essential for this generation in corporate internal communication - they need it, and obviously have absolutely no problem using it, either in their work or in their communication. They expect a fast, transparent, and efficient flow of information, they value immediate, personalized feedback - and brevity. So it's good to avoid complicated messages and keep communication simple, clear, and to the point. In the content strategy, it's also a good idea to move towards easy, quick-to-digest content, with visual elements that are entertaining if possible (and it's good to have a way to react and evaluate).

Generation Z is uncomfortable with formal communication - they prefer a more informal, clear, unmannered style of expression, a friendly, direct style. But it is important to understand that these needs are not simply the result of their age, but are a natural consequence of the digital environment in which they have lived since childhood and which is an essential part of their social and professional lives.

Link the generations!

The needs of the three generations are similar in terms of technology, direct communication, diversity, and feedback, so it's easier to deal with these in internal communication if you have a digital platform for all this. The main challenge is rather the formal and stylistic fine-tuning needed to effectively address and engage all three generations at the same time. This may require openness and flexibility in the first instance - but it certainly requires awareness. There is fierce competition today for talent, to retain employees and increase their satisfaction. If internal communication can effectively reach out to and engage all different age groups, building generational bridges between employees, it will be a huge step towards more efficient operations.