Knowledge transfer in organizations is a little like the holiday season; no matter how much you plan for it, and even look forward to it...it still causes anxiety when it's really here. And the anxiety - specifically over the massive and looming knowledge hand-off from retiring Boomers to the next generations -- was palpable at this year's Working Mother conference, particularly as it concerns Millennials. Ready or not, Boomers are preparing their exit papers. And it's no surprise that presenters spent a lot of time talking about how to leverage the youngest up-and-comers (Millennials as well as Gen Z) to be fully engaged in the task ahead. Some key takeaways:
Engage the "Why"
Millennials are well known for wanting more from their work than just a paycheck. And satisfying that desire is going to become increasingly important. They're looking for meaning, said keynote and Sandbox Network founder Christian Busch, Ph.D. To engage them, companies will have to think about things like environmental goals and meaning in one's day-to-day work as incentives...and not just rewards in money.
Know your audience
Millennials respond to innovation. Ask for ideas; launch focus groups; create peer to peer mentoring; and listen to what they have to say.
Don't just talk
Responsiveness is in...but only if you mean it. Pilot new programs; be open to ideas; and engage employees by assuring them that their voices will help fuel a better future.
Show them how it's done
Staying competitive will require all hands on deck - meaning we can't afford to lose half our workforce (the female half) after they become mothers. The secret will be ensuring you have female leaders who can make the pathway seem possible. A lot of female executives at the conference seemed focused on making that their mission.
Finally, don't forget: Boomers and Gen X are still a critical part of your team. Effective knowledge transfer requires communication among a multi-generational workforce. And the one way to alienate one generation is to focus all your energy on the other. But the effort you put in will be amply rewarded with a workforce wholly committed to the organization.
"Engaged talent is the driving force behind any company's culture," Working Mother SVP & Managing Director Subha V. Barry told the conference. "The more engaged, the more fulfilling and positive the environment becomes."