Maria Hughes, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer, Humana Inc.
Today’s workplace includes more generations than ever before – the Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, Millennials and Generation Zers together within a single company. As some workers choose to remain in the workforce and delay retirement, the next generation is beginning their careers.
How do we create a healthy and inclusive workplace where employees from every generation feel valued? How do we encourage employees from different generations to work together and share their unique skills? How do we make sure generational differences and commonalities are understood and valued … and a strength, even, as opposed to a weakness?
Quite simply, we listen.
Humana recently created our ninth Network Resource Group (NRG) with the goal of listening to and encouraging teamwork between the different generations within our company. GenUs, our multigenerational NRG open to all Humana employees, is committed to growing understanding and breaking down generational barriers that suppress diversity of thought. When we weave these generations together within Humana – when we truly thrive together – we’re a stronger company better positioned to deliver on our Bold Goal and improve the health of every community we serve.
Finding ways to thrive together regardless of generation is something we work toward across all of Humana. To that extent, our GenUs executive sponsors represent different teams within the company and bring unique perspectives from their own departments and generations.
“I’m excited by the opportunity to help Humana look past stereotypes and listen to each other so that good work gets done efficiently and humanely,” says Walter Woods, Chief Executive Officer of the Humana Foundation and GenUs executive sponsor. “Are workers today really so different from those of generations past? Perhaps, but perhaps we’re responding to shifts in the business landscape by clinging to assumptions and falsehoods. Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millenials, the Gen Z up-and-comers – we all want the same things like income, purpose and to feel valued, even if we want them in slightly different ways.”
Today’s workplace is markedly different than in the past, underscoring the importance of thinking differently about our future workforce. Before establishing GenUs, we completed a round of multigenerational focus groups to understand the needs of Humana’s employees. Our employees want and value similar things, as Walter said, but approach these areas differently based on generation.
• Learning and development – Regardless of place in career or life stage, our employees want continued development. Employees are interested in learning from each other, sharing an older generation’s acquired skills with a younger generation and sharing the newer skillsets those just entering the workforce have with those further into their careers.
• Career navigation – Regardless of age, our employees want to continue to grow and want to be taken seriously.
• Workplace experience – It’s important to find the common denominators and create an inclusive space that’s as friendly to those who began their careers without the Internet to those who think email is an “old school” form of communication.
• Consumer experience and integrated care – Our employees want to understand how working well together across generations impacts Humana’s members’ health and well-being.
Values and experiences are what define a generation, perhaps even more so than birth year. Moments like the Civil Rights Movement or 9-11 can shape an entire generation. And generations translate into the workplace and our communication styles, ability to adapt to change and technical skills.
“With a multi-generational workforce, it is crucial that we recognize and listen to differences in workstyle preferences, work location preferences and work hour preferences – that we meet our people where they are in life,” says Anne-Britton Arnett, Vice President, Information Management and Analytics and GenUs executive sponsor. “GenUs gives Humana employees at all stages in life an opportunity to collaborate and make a real difference in how we work toward achieving a work-life balance that allows us all to achieve our best health and well-being.”
As we’ve just started the new GenUs Network Resource Group, we aren’t sure yet what our employees will think of it, or even if they’ll embrace this approach. We are sure, though, that every employee across the company has the opportunity to benefit from greater connection and understanding across our generations.