How to establish an onboarding process to cross generational gaps

| May 26, 2021

No matter what kind of company you run, you need great processes in place. Apart from marketing, sales, and finance, you should have a well-designed onboarding process that helps you welcome your new employees in the best way possible.

However, with so many managerial responsibilities, this often becomes a challenge.

Still, if you let your onboarding fall to the wayside, you risk many unfavorable outcomes.

New employees may be less excited about the opportunity to work for you, leading to high churn rates. They might also miss out on crucial learning in the first few months, resulting in poor performance and a loss of revenue further down the road.

You may hire a baby boomer today and a Zoomer tomorrow—and they will require different training approaches.

So to make sure you set your employees up for success, in this article, we will cover 4 distinct ways to establish an onboarding process to cross any generational gaps.

Ask them about their preferred work and communication style

One of the fundamental mistakes that businesses make is assuming that everyone communicates in the exact same way.

The truth is that each person has a unique preference for how to communicate with their colleagues and superiors. These preferences can also be generationally determined.

If you don’t take this into account, you may find that employees will not participate in the communication process as effectively or as often as they should.

This will lead to decreased productivity.

However, if you make an effort to meet them halfway, they will be happy to engage with the management and other team members.

For instance, baby boomers might not appreciate group chat applications such as Slack.

This doesn’t mean they don’t like teamwork, just that constantly messaging back and forth may not be something they are accustomed to, unlike younger generations.

Customise your onboarding for each generation

Make sure your onboarding process does not take a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

Instead, embrace the fact that you are hiring people across all stages of life and take it upon yourself to bridge any generational gaps.

Otherwise, you may not have the positive and effective results you are looking for.

Here are some differences to keep in mind when onboarding various age groups:

  • Baby Boomers. This generation has been in the workforce for at least 30 years. They are often competitive and goal-oriented. More traditional onboarding is a good idea for this group.
  • Gen X.Typically born in the ‘70s or ‘80s his generation is individualistic and more technologically savvy. A mix between traditional and more technological onboarding will probably work best here.
  • The first generation of true digital natives has grown up with cell phones and software, among other technologies. Because they are so used to them, using modern communication platforms will help them get their ideas across more effectively and make managing them go smoother.

So, use these insights to make sure your hiring and onboarding strategies are as inclusive and as effective as possible.

Draw from their previous experience

Each employee has a unique background and skills that you can draw from. If you do it right, it can be a source of excellent value for your business.

This is particularly true for more mature age groups.

When onboarding employees with more extensive experience, make sure to go over what they have learned in their career over the years in some detail.

Oftentimes, they have picked up valuable insights that can be applied to your company—some of which may not have occurred to you.

For instance, someone with experience doing things the traditional way may have internalized productivity skills that your younger employees lack, simply because he or she didn’t have the technology to do it for them.

Even if you use modernized software, these processes can be applied across your company’s departments.

Therefore, existing skills are always worth evaluating when hiring new people.

Fix tech skill gaps

Hiring cross-generational employees means that you will have differences in technological skills. However, this does not need to be a downside if you take the right steps.

You should mend those skill gaps with onboarding that clearly explains the technology you use.

Modern software can be very user-friendly, and with the right approach, even those employees who tend to eschew technology will become adept users of the solutions you implement.

Examine your onboarding methods to see where your training can be automated.

Of course, by blending software-based solutions with real-time support and other communication lines, you can ensure comprehension.

That way, your new hires will be up to speed no matter which generation they come from.


When it comes to running a business, the way you hire is a crucial component. This is especially true in a post-pandemic world.

Many of your employees may be working remotely, which means your onboarding process needs to be solid.

However, this is easier said than done.

Many issues can arise when onboarding employees. You can have misunderstandings, gaps in knowledge, and various generations to cater to.

That is why it is important to follow the right steps in ensuring your hiring meets all these demands—otherwise, your employees could underperform or harbor resentment.

So be sure to implement the 4 critical steps above. They will help sharpen your onboarding strategy.

That way, you can position your company to hire exactly who you need, regardless of their age.