Mind the Gap: Tips for Creating One Voice from Multiple Generations

I was born in the late 1970’s, and grew up in the early 80’s at a time when kids walked home from elementary school, by themselves without cell phones and without a safety plan in place. We were born to be independent and fearless. We learned to trust or not trust adults by trial and error.

Technically I’m a millennial, which includes those born between 1977-1995 (coincidentally, this is the year I graduated from high school). However, put me next to a millennial born in the 90’s and the only similarity might be our cell phone model. (Though I’d have the mom-sized, yet practical bulky case, and they would likely have the slim and fashionable one).

The Facts

According to Forbes (2017), millennials now account for 53 million workers in the United States. I’m not great at math, but I believe that equates to more than half of our workforce. WOW.

Some of the trends found in the mindset of millennials include wanting to climb the corporate ladder, quickly and having less focus on long-term financial planning and more on how they are rewarded and valued as an employee. As a writer for a consulting firm, they’re a goldmine. They are always willing to volunteer their voice and their developing expertise in whatever forum they can be heard. But here’s where we run into some trouble.

In an industry where brand recognition, stability and consistency can make or break a deal, their voice needs to align with the voice of each generation within your organization: Baby Boomers (those born between 1946-1964) Gen Z staff (born between 1996-TBD) and Gen Xers (born between 1965-1976). In other words Ed, who’s worked with Tom for the past 30 years at your company, needs to feel just as confident when calling up Lincoln, the millennial for the same information. As you can imagine this doesn’t always go as planned and as a result, client communication consistency can get pretty hairy. So the question becomes, how can we ensure as a company, that every employee is representing your firm in the same light? The answer, it takes a village.

Despite a seemingly know-it-all attitude thanks to Wikipedia and social media, recent graduates and younger generations still value the ‘old school’ (this holds true, particularly in the skilled trade industry). In this instance, we’re not talking vinyl, but Baby Boomers. They can offer insight to younger staff that is based on decades of field experience. And in return, younger staff can provide insight into the latest software tools and technology. Egos aside, both can be invaluable to each other when either is taken out of their comfort zone.

Here are some suggestions from a PR perspective on how to ensure one voice is representing your firm:

Think Big Picture

  • Revisit your Mission, Vision and Values statements. Ensure that each statement that is made to the public by a member of your organization is directly in line with the firm’s long terms goals and philosophy. After all, this is representative of why we’re hired and liked by our clients in the first place. It’s important to keep in mind that voices themselves can sound different so long as the message is consistent.

Team Up

  • If given the opportunity to include multiple voices within an article or blog, take it. This can show your audience that your firm brings depth to the topic, yet can take a balanced approach. It also shows that you are confident in what your veteran and new hires have to say on your behalf. After all, your leadership saw something that universally represented your company’s Mission, Vision and Values in both team members.

Encourage Transparency from The Top Down

  • It’s important to share valuable information like lessons learned and financial gains and losses internally, in order to avoid staff feeling like they have been left out of the loop. An open office coupled with open lines of communication, which includes having approachable leadership at every level, will send you well on your way to becoming One organization and by proxy, having One voice.

How does your organization achieve a unified voice?

Camille Thompson is a Marketing Communications Specialist at Peter Basso Associates, Inc. and a PRSA Detroit blog contributor. 

Reference: Patel, D. “5 Costly Mistakes Leaders Make When Managing Millennials.” Retrieved May 20, 2019 from 

Feature picture from pexels