Some say that this is the first time in history that there are five generations together in the workplace –  Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y and Generation Z. Further, never before have so many employers held a more geographically diverse, multi-country footprint. But what weighs even more, especially for management and HR, is that with each generation in each country comes distinct work styles and general preferences based on varying backgrounds, educations and work histories.

So, how can organizations accommodate this multi-generation, globalized workforce?

While employees might be separated by oceans, offices and languages, it’s critical that they all feel uniformly supported in order to positively influence communal business results. In every business, there is a wide assortment of work styles, such as remote workers, less-structured management or a different cultural work-life balance. What can companies do to ensure they truly understand employees’ unique needs, skill sets and backgrounds? A great starting place for both potential and new employees is the use of assessments, from personality tests – such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) – to job simulations and cultural-fit assessments.

Companies’ overall use of pre-hire assessments is on the rise, growing by 18% between 2011 and 2013, according to an Aberdeen study: Getting the Most Out of Your Pre-Hire Assessments. What’s more, per the figure below, top companies are more adept than underperformers at grasping the importance of knowing prospective employees’ needs and backgrounds well before hiring them.

Why Assessing in Advance Pay Off

Such data enables hiring managers to determine whether prospective employees meet the cultural needs of the organization and fit of the business. But, companies can’t wait until the interview and hiring processes to uncover this information – the assessment process must occur beforehand. That’s where recruiters come in: they must be knowledgeable about how to interact with and evaluate prospects, and must be in-tune to work ethic, personality, work-style attitudes and workplace values based on resumes, references and interviews. Having this insight will help determine prospective employees’ passion and how they relate to the organization’s brand, vision and values.

Once hired, employees’ work style, skill sets and needs must also be taken into account – the workforce must feel empowered in order to be successful. 69% of industry Leaders identified in the Cielo Talent Activation Index (companies “excellent” in achieving at least two of their top three strategic talent objectives) are “very effective” at empowering workers of diverse cultural backgrounds to work in their own styles while contributing to common business goals. Comparatively, 95% of Laggards (companies between “average” and “poor” in achieving their top strategic talent objectives) admit to not effectively empowering works of diverse cultural backgrounds. If it isn’t already, this needs to be a major business priority.

We all intuitively know that employees who feel supported, recognized and engaged will have a bigger positive impact on business results. When enterprises and managers acknowledge employees’ positive behaviors and demonstrate appreciation for their contributions, workers will continue with such behaviors, remain engaged with the company and feel motivated to perform. In fact, per Aberdeen’s The Power of Employee Recognition report, 60% of “Best-in-Class” organizations stated that employee recognition is extremely valuable for driving individual performance, compared to 44% of all other companies. Recognition extends well beyond generations, locations and skill sets – it’s a powerful driver for both employee engagement and business success. 

Post contributed by Aberdeen Group’s Human Capital Management Research Analyst, Zach Lahey. Connect with Zach on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.