Look at any business sector and any enterprise function, and you are likely to see two things: the “graying” of the workforce and the steady rise of the first digital native generation. Generally speaking, these are the two ends of the generational spectrum. GenX and Boomer workers have accumulated years of experience in their areas of expertise as well as in the soft skills that support professional success. GenZ and Millennial workers are highly tech-savvy and accustomed to using digitized processes and resources to produce results.
An enterprise that can build bridges to share knowledge across worker generations can realize significant business value. For example, more experienced workers can provide insights into why certain processes work the way they do or how to navigate interpersonal challenges with peers and managers. Younger workers can contribute their innate technology orientation to help digitize processes and incorporate productivity tools into workflows.
How Independent Professionals Contribute to Knowledge Bridges
Independent professionals can play a valuable role in this bridge building. Equipped with a range of experience from many clients and projects, high-value independents can have a positive impact on an organization when placed in appropriate roles.
- Alumni employees who are now contractors can help ensure their “head knowledge” about the areas in which they worked is retained.
- Independents with extensive experience can help improve processes based on what successes they’ve seen elsewhere.
- Tech-savvy younger independents can offer objective input into the organization’s processes, both manual and digital.
- Older independents can contribute the learnings they’ve acquired around certain soft skills like communication and conflict resolution.
- Conversely, younger independents can bring a heightened entrepreneurial spirit to a team or organization.
5 Ways to Build Knowledge Bridges through Independent Professionals
Think about how independent professionals can contribute their knowledge to support organizational success. For example:
- Engage a GenZ or Millennial independent to participate in the digitization of a company function so that you can gain their perspective on user experience and how to streamline processes in the transition from manual to digital.
- Engage a GenX or Boomer independent to participate on the same team to offer the reasoning behind the “why” of manual processes work and to collaborate with younger workers to retain key process pieces in the digitized version.
- Include a younger independent on teams with older workers to help infuse heightened creativity into brainstorming and planning.
- Pair an independent from one end of the generation spectrum with an employee from the other end for two-way mentoring.
- Engage independent professionals as reviewers for key initiatives—younger ones to bring out-of-the-box thinking and older ones to bring experienced insights into what works and what doesn’t.
Include the notion of knowledge bridges as you plan strategic initiatives and key projects. Identify bridge-building roles that are suited to independent talent—those that can bring added value through a fresh perspective, innovative thinking, or experienced insight.