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From Boomers to Millennials: Do Your Meetings Entice Them All?

Posted On: March 2, 2016

It is time to plan your annual sales meeting and your employees range from a recent college graduate to a long time worker in their last year before retirement. So, how do you thoughtfully design a meeting that entices and meets the needs of each generation?

With several generations co-mingling at your meeting, creating an atmosphere where everyone feels involved, appreciated and successful can be a real challenge. According to a survey by Lee Hecht Harrison, more than half of employers struggle with intergenerational conflict. The good news is that the effort you make to organize an inclusive meeting that values, rewards, and develops workers from each generation will pay off in high rates of employee engagement.

The first step in planning a successful annual sales meeting is to spend some time understanding the different values and motivations of each generation. Before we dive into the key differences between generations, it’s important to note that these are generalizations. Not every Millennial will be uber tech savvy nor will each Baby Boomer be hard working. Still, the broader trends within each generational category are helpful guidelines for crafting a sales meeting that is broad enough to attract and engage every employee.

SILENT GENERATION

Born: 1925 to 1945
Age in 2016: 71-87
Core Values: Discipline, Loyalty, Conformance, Respect for Authority

Motivational Message: “Your experience and loyalty are invaluable to this company.”

BABY BOOMERS

Born: 1946 to 1964

Age in 2016: 52-70

Core Values: Optimism, Involvement, Hard Working

Motivational Message: “Your opinion is important and valued.”

GENERATION XERS

Born: 1965 to 1980

Age in 2016: 36-51

Core Values: Flexibility, Skepticism, Informality

Motivational Message: “Get it done whatever way you feel is best.”

GENERATION Y OR MILLENNIALS

Born: 1980 to 1994

Age in 2016: 22-36

Core Values: Tolerance, Collective Action, Idealism, Technology Savvy

Motivational Message: “You, together with your co-workers, can make a difference.”

As detailed above, each generation carries its own particular core values and motivational messages. Your company can plan a sales meeting that caters to these differences by considering the following four questions when making decisions about keynote speakers, group activities, employee recognition, training options and more.

1.  Are we offering choices that reflect a variety of interests and abilities?

A hyper rigid meeting schedule is sure to annoy everyone, particularly Generation Xers and Millennials who value flexibility. When you are considering group activities, be sure to include two choices for each timeslot. It is also important to think through the abilities and interests of your team; for example, whitewater rafting might appeal more to certain ages than others. This is when a basic understanding of the generational composition of your workforce is key. Regardless, providing a balanced selection of activities is smart planning.

2. Are we encouraging intergenerational engagement?

It may feel unnatural for a 22 year-old and 70 year-old to strike up a relationship in the buffet line, yet there is so much for the company to gain if a mutual mentorship can be facilitated between employees of different generations. So while offering flexibility in choices is important (see question 1), try to incorporate a few key opportunities for employees to engage inter generationally. Your annual meeting is the perfect time to facilitate a conversation and/or training about generational diversity in the workplace.

3. Are we motivating all employees?

Annual sales meetings are a great time to encourage and motivate your team. As described earlier, each generation has key motivations that differ from one another. When you are selecting a keynote speaker or meeting theme, take a moment to look through the motivational messages that appeal to the generations represented in your company. Millennials will resonate more with a message about how their work is making the world a better place, for example. Again, knowing the generational composition of your workforce is helpful in weighing which messages are more important to emphasize.

4. Are we offering rewards and incentives that connect?

Commemorative plaques for length of service mean more for members of the Silent Generation than for Generation Xers, who would likely prefer to win an opportunity for further development like educational advancement. One thing is certain: nearly everyone is motivated by travel incentives. When you are putting together the employee recognition portion of your meeting, ask yourself how each generation might connect with specific rewards and incentives.

We ask ourselves these questions and more when we’re creating a sales meeting plan to ensure companies are both attending to and challenging employees from each generation to learn from each other. A company that inspires intergenerational collaboration spurs greater harmony and productivity. Meetings are crucial to an engaged workforce, which is why Docherty designs events and meetings with a holistic approach.