Like the employee portion of the workforce, your independent talent network is not a homogeneous group. The communication strategies for your direct sourcing program must be crafted to resonate with the right audiences, whether directed internally or externally.
Insight into the communication preferences and messaging styles of the different components of your talent network can help attract high-value talent and optimize the productivity of the independent professionals on your teams.
Broadly speaking, each generation has distinct communication characteristics. Understanding the difference in focus and useful approach with each can contribute to the effectiveness of communication initiatives.
Gen Z comprises 15% of the full-time independent workforce. The first digital-native generation in the workplace, Gen Zers have difficulty imagining how people worked without technology. They rely heavily on technology, and many do a large part of their work on mobile phones.
Focus: Excitement and fun
Communication tip: When communicating with Gen Z, get right to the point using their preferred mode of communication—usually a text or chat message. And if you can make it exciting, so much the better.
At 34% of the full-time independent workforce, Millennials easily adapt to digital communication and modern technology. Having grown up alongside the internet, they expect technology-enabled workplaces and like to conduct conversations through online messaging and email.
Communication tip: When possible, involve them in the early stages of an effort. Solicit and show value for their ideas.
Resourceful and industrious, Gen X (28%) saw the rise of personal computers and the incorporation of desktop computing into the workplace. They are comfortable using various channels of communication, both live and asynchronous, and choose what seems appropriate for a particular need.
Focus: Collaboration and shared responsibility
Communication Tip: A collaborative approach works well with Gen X. For example, rather than delivering already determined instructions, sharing the desired outcome and discussing options are likely to be more productive.
For most of their careers, Boomers (24%) communicated in real time, either in person or by phone. Though they’ve readily adapted to asynchronous forms of interaction, many are still more likely than other generations to pick up the phone before sending an email.
Focus: Respect and recognition
Communication tip: Regardless of the form of communication, appreciating a Boomer’s experience and clearly valuing their opinions contribute to effectiveness.
The Experience Overlay
Talent at the start of their independent businesses, those who have been on their own for a few years, and those who have been solo for decades have varied knowledge and expectations around the independent experience. Therefore, in addition to considering generational nuances, matching messaging to experience level is important for effective communication. Over-communicating with seasoned independent professionals or under-communicating with new members of the independent workforce can be off-putting in one case and confusing in the other.
Assuming that an independent professional’s experience tracks with their generation can be an error. In today’s marketplace, younger independents may have more experience in certain business-critical skills, particularly in the high-demand tech area, than their older counterparts. Many younger members of the Creator Economy started businesses in their teens. At the other end of the age spectrum, some older independents, employees most of their careers, are new to business ownership.
Aligning communications of your heterogeneous talent network requires understanding member demographics and experience levels. Invest time learning about styles and preferences to determine your direct sourcing program’s best internal and external communications approaches.