Managing a Multigenerational Workforce in the Call Center
A multigenerational workforce can be both a blessing and a curse depending on who you talk to. People who find the workforce difficult to deal with most likely work for a company that doesn’t know how to manage the different age groups effectively. This can be catastrophic, especially in the call center, where agents are the first form of contact many customers have with the company.
In order to successfully manage a multigenerational workforce within a call center, it’s important to recognize the differences between each generation. At this point, Baby Boomers all the way through Generation Z are in the workforce, and there are plenty of gaps in work ethic and technology know-how that need to be addressed.
A recent Robert Half survey asked CFOs what the greatest differences were among their multigenerational workforces. Thirty percent of respondents said the biggest difference was in communication skills, 26 percent cited the ability to adapt to change, technical skills followed at 23 percent, and 14 percent noted cross-departmental collaboration as an issue between age groups. These are some big issues, but they don’t need to be obstacles. An efficient manager will turn these weaknesses into strengths through strategic planning and training.
The first trap managers need to avoid is stereotyping age groups. It’s easy to assume that a Baby Boomer can’t learn new software, while a member of Generation Y would find it easier. If managers make that assumption, they might not even try to teach Baby Boomers, or they’ll do so with a bad attitude. That doesn’t help anyone, and you’d be surprised how many Baby Boomers can catch on to changes in tech trends!
Team building activities are also a great way of using the multigenerational workforce to the best of its ability. Having younger agents work together with older agents is a great way to not only build a team atmosphere, but it also allows the different generations to learn from each other. Younger agents can help veteran agents with tech-based problems, for example, and older agents can teach younger agents about tried-and-true techniques when dealing with customers. Having the different generations role-play calls is also beneficial, as it allows them to bounce ideas off each other and practice dealing with “customers” of all ages.
There’s no denying that each generation is different than the last. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Everyone, from Baby Boomers to Gen Z, brings something different to the table. The right manager will be able to utilize those differences to create a stronger, more efficient call center.