With four generations of employees in the workplace today, HR and Operations leaders must understand and manage a diverse set of workers. Different generations have different points of views, motivations, and preferences for where and how they work. The largest group is the millennial workers. By 2025, 75 percent of the workforce will be made up of people born between 1982 and 2000, reports Forbes.

Managing millennials in the workplace may require a shift in thinking as well as an overhaul of your processes. Millennials expect flexibility and value work-life balance more than any generation before them, according to a report by Deloitte. Nearly two-thirds of millennials would prefer to work on a freelance basis, as a direct contractor, through an agency or on a "gig" basis, working for multiple companies at once. This makes HR functions such as tracking time, developing benefits and designing time-off policies more complex.

Meanwhile, for many businesses the Millennial workers are making up an increasing portion of management, which means they are managing not only their peers but also more senior generations of workers who may not be as comfortable with the same kinds of work styles and unpredictable schedules. These workers may have a need for more predictable schedules because of family obligations, or they may simply value consistency and loyalty in their jobs because they are comfortable, good at the work, and are used to a more traditional schedule.

Organizations should be looking at how they can offer more flexible work schedules to attract and retain great employees of all generations.

Get in the Game

Is there a workforce management style and solution that might serve everyone's needs?

The answer naturally depends on the organization and nature of the work. Nurses, pilots and auto mechanics generally can't work from home. But most organizations can re-evaluate process, tools, and scheduling to see where changes can be made that work for everyone.

Start by taking a look at the roles you need to fill; decide where you can offer workers flexibility. Are there jobs suited for freelance or remote employees? While this is a change from traditional work arrangements, having some of your workers out of the office can benefit the employer.

Next, look at whether and how the work can be done in different ways and how you might change work schedules. The Deloitte report found that flexibility correlates with improved performance.

New software can make scheduling more effective and allow more flexibility without losing productivity. In evaluating and choosing new scheduling software, here are some important things to consider:

Flexibility in data collection. Having the right data and being able to use it with whatever time keeping system you have will allow you to understand both what is happening and where you can make effective changes. Look for programs that work on mobile for those workers who prefer that, and can also work on PCs or integrate with time clocks if you have workers who track time that way.

Ease of use. Look for intuitive and consumer based solutions that are easy to read, easy to figure out and comfortable even for workers who are not constantly on their phones and dependent on the latest apps.

Breadth of scheduling practices. Scheduling software should allow employees to easily handle changes, swap shifts, and make requests for overtime. It should also allow for more predictable, repeatable templates for workers who have or need a more fixed schedule.

Complex leave management. Different generations also approach vacation and leaves differently. While millennials are often tagged with being entitled or lazy, Harvard Business Report explains one study shows that millennials are work martyrs and anxious about taking time off. They also forfeit unused vacation more than any other generation. Workers who are married, have kids, may be caring for aging parents, or are aging themselves have more complex leave requirements such as short absences for appointments, school events and caregiving, as well as longer vacations and parental and FMLA leave.

Compliance. Giving managers one place to manage the whereabouts of everyone within one system can also help govern the consistent application of policies, laws and wage hour issues, which can help avoid costly administrative and pay mistakes.

Having scheduling tools available to everyone no matter where they are and what device they use will encourage employees to track their time regularly, accurately, and efficiently. This allows organizations to see where and how they can be more flexible and meet the needs of all their workers.

It's important to realize that just as people change, so should your environment and tools. By being open to new ideas and new ways of doing business, you invite your organization to progress and to attract the right people, no matter what their generation.

Tags: Mobile Multigenerational Workforce