Training Top 125 Best Practice: Electric Power Board’s Generational Diversity Training

The initiative is composed of several parts, including an escape room experiment and generational diversity classroom training sessions.

Electric Power Board (EPB) distributes electric power and telecommunications services to more than 170,000 households in the southeast Tennessee and northern Georgia regions. EPB values diversity of all types and sought to approach the issue of diversity from a unique angle. 

In January 2018, EPB attempted to integrate its passion for diversity with its training initiatives by teaming up with ReGenerations to develop a diversity training program focused on navigating and understanding generational differences. The initiative is composed of several parts, including an escape room experiment and generational diversity training sessions. 

Program Details

With the world undergoing one of the largest generational and technological shifts in history, this particular diversity training program aims to increase cohesiveness and efficiency in the workplace by highlighting the values and communication styles unique to each generation (Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials). As such, this diversity initiative is composed of several parts. The first component is an interactive Escape Chattanooga challenge where 13 same- and intergenerational teams are required to escape a locked space within a certain timeframe by utilizing hidden clues. The members of each team are randomly selected to participate in the challenge and assigned to either the intergenerational team or a team of their respective generation (Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, or Millennials). 

After the first several months of planning and implementation, results have been favorable, as managers and supervisors were able to identify each generation’s communication and teamwork styles, as well as problem-solving techniques. The results from this initiative then helped serve as a framework for the classroom training sessions. 

The classroom sessions provide a high-level view of the three generations and the general attitudes and behavioral tendencies of each as identified by research. Participants also are given the opportunity to share how the social, cultural, and political climate during their adolescence shaped their current beliefs and values. At the end of the session, participants are grouped together and given the task of working together to open a locked container using clues provided to them. 

Results

Surveys conducted by ReGenerations generated reactions from leadership members and their perception of the company’s current state regarding generational diversity. Notably, more than 90 percent of leadership members reported that they believe generational diversity is a topic that holds at least some importance to EPB. In addition, half the respondents believe that an intergenerational team is more effective than a homogeneous one, and more than half the respondents expressed that they prefer to work on teams with members who are from a different generation. 

Surveys conducted by EPB also accrued useful information. A post-training survey created by Learning & Development team members indicated a 38 percent increase in confidence level of using knowledge and strategies learned in the training to navigate these generational differences. In addition, 68 percent of respondents reported having changed the way they interact with members of a different generation on the job, while 69 percent reported having used the knowledge and strategies learned in training on the job. In the course of only a couple of months, more than a quarter of respondents reported seeing a positive impact in their department as a result of the training, and more than one-third of respondents expressed that their supervisors or managers were continually reinforcing the behaviors learned during the sessions.

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