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How AI can enhance multi-generational communication strategies

AI can analyse data to understand trends and preferences among different generations, according to the national MD of Gallagher’s HR Technology Consulting Practice

When introducing artificial intelligence (AI) to your HR strategy, internal communications is a great place to start, especially because of our multi-generational workforce.

Our generational identity – the time when we are born – does not entirely define us as people. However, it does serve as a useful lens through which to understand individuals.

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In today’s workforce, there are an unprecedented five generations, each with its own unique characteristics. HR leaders are tasked with crafting communication strategies that resonate with a diverse workforce in more than one way. AI is ready to lend a hand here, serving as a valuable asset for those who harness its potential effectively.

Personalised messaging

In an era where multiple generations coexist in the workplace, employers must refrain from adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to internal comms. From the Silent Generation, generally defined as people born from 1928 to 1945, to Gen Z, born in the late 1990s and early 2000s, there are a host of potential differences and preferences to contend with. It’s all about personalisation if you want to meaningfully connect with your employees.

AI can bring significant benefits on this front, and HR leaders are starting to take stock of its capabilities. According to Gallagher’s 2024 State of the Sector report, nearly half of internal communicators expect technology to have an impact when it comes to achieving hyper-personalisation, and it’s not difficult to see why.

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AI can analyse vast amounts of data and personalise communications materials based on a range of criteria, including age, preferences and job position. In practice, this means that employees see what’s relevant to them more often in a way that is most meaningful to them. It’s this degree of personalisation in internal comms that ultimately boosts employee engagement.

Targeted training

Recognising generational differences isn’t a cue to overlook individuality in the workforce. Each employee is unique, and some may not align with the typical characteristics of their generation. Some might even share more in common with the generations that came after or before them. The point is to ensure that you’re speaking to employees as individuals.

While personalised messaging might account for generational differences, HR leaders need to go further to show that they are striving to understand their employees on a deeper level. Targeted training, driven by AI, is one way to demonstrate their commitment to meeting this responsibility.

Read more: How to introduce AI to talent management

AI can identify skill gaps, provide instant feedback, and recommend customised training programmes for an employee’s progression. In doing so, HR personnel are speaking to the individual needs and circumstances of the workforce.

Accounting for generational sensitivities in workplace communication

The benefits of AI in personalisation are clear, but its potential upside for speaking to a diverse workforce doesn’t end here.

Using AI is one way employers can ease feelings of apprehension among older employees about implementing new technology. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can instantly answer employee queries and be altered to use language that takes account of an individual’s generational identity.

At a more basic level, AI can also analyse data to understand trends and preferences among different generations. HR leaders can use this to inform how they approach employees in the future. From gauging sentiment from employee surveys to tracking the most popular communication channels among different generations, AI’s data analytic capabilities are priceless for understanding workplace preferences.

Embracing AI will position HR leaders well in their quest to resonate with a multi-generational workforce. From the personalisation of comms to simply understanding the general attitudes of different age cohorts, the sky is the limit for those looking to improve their overall HR strategies. At the same time, AI can appeal to employees as individuals and ensure they feel valued and engaged throughout their professional journey.

Internal comms is just the tip of AI usage. HR leaders can use AI to write job descriptions, improve the tone of emails, analyse sentiment (positive and negative) and summarise meetings, among other tasks.

However, given AI’s inability to distinguish the truth from a lie, AI needs us humans to ensure that it generates what we expect, and to mitigate the risk associated with unexpected results. AI is here to stay, and internal comms is a great place to introduce AI into your HR strategy, so long as a human remains at the controls.

By Ed Barry, national managing director of Gallagher’s HR Technology Consulting Practice