How Leadership Can Support Employees During Significant Personal Milestones

ITA Group
ITA Group

When it comes to caring for your employees during emotional times, a one size solution does not fit all. Today’s workforce is made up of employees going through all kinds of personal and professional change. Many of these employees are at di­fferent life stages, which means they have different priorities and concerns outside the office. This, in turn, can impact their work lives.

Considering this, it can be challenging to check one’s emotions at the door when you come to work. It’s not as easy as just flipping a switch.

As a leader, it’s so important that you stay tuned in to your team members’ unique needs (and how those needs vary based on life stage) to ensure they are enabled to succeed, no matter what change they might be tackling. Take a look at the following personal milestones your employees will likely experience, and how you can keep them motivated throughout.

Employee starting a new role at work

1. Employees New to a Role

It’s wise to remember that new employees are at various stages of their lives and have existing experiences they are managing. These days, it’s not uncommon you could be managing someone beginning a second career, someone transferring from another department within the company or a former stay-at-home parent who’s now reentering the workforce. No matter what their circumstances, they’re new and will be looking for help transitioning to their new role. Casual check-ins and an open-door policy will help these less-experienced team members feel supported. Additionally, employees at all career levels increasingly want to know how their assigned tasks fit into the bigger picture. Providing context for their work and connecting it to your team, department and company goals allows them to see the importance of the duties they’ve been assigned as well as connect to your company’s mission.

Research has found employees that connect to a larger purpose or mission in this way are more satisfied, productive and more likely to be retained. 

Employee working from home after having a new baby

2. Employees Welcoming a New Baby to the Family

Working parenthood is an 18–26-year job and the makeup of working families continue to grow and evolve. Yet, most companies concentrate their efforts on visible working parents—new biological mothers. While these initiatives are a great step forward, they address only a fraction of what having a new baby means and those who experience the impact. That's why smart companies are starting to offer parential benefits to all employees who become parents. This means providing paid time off for child-bonding to spouses and partners, parents who have a child through a surrogate and parents who adopt a child. Paternity leave, flexible work arrangements, family-inclusive events and more, all help to align your organization’s programs to this reality and better targets the issue for all those impacted. It sends a more inclusive message, too.

Employee preparing for retirement from work

3. Employees Nearing Retirement

Just like your new and entry-level employees, those employees who are preparing to retire are looking for purpose. They want a plan for their post-work life and are likely feeling anxious about an impending retirement. Instead of letting team members dwell on the unknown, support them with purposeful work. Provide volunteer time off during the workweek or flexible schedules that allow the pursuit of activities outside of the office to refresh and invigorate employees. Additionally, 60+ year-old employees still want some type of career advancement. Offer training and networking opportunities to develop new skills and work with new people.

Most importantly, advocate for them because even as they prepare for life outside of work, they have a lot they can offer through mentorship of your younger employees.

While each person is motivated differently, leaders would be wise not to follow blanket stereotypes. Take advantage of the differences in values and expectations of each individual employee but don’t forget what makes them similar and, ultimately, brings team members together. Accommodate personal needs and be prepared for change. Different employees will be in different stages of life and career and may require employers to make adjustments to find a balance between work and life.


Is your organization ignoring the traits that are shared across all generations? Check out more from Insights to learn how you can engage with your employees regardless of generation.