Today's workforce is more age-diverse than ever. There are up to five generations mixing and mingling in many workplaces. Each generation has had unique life experiences that shape their world view, values, goals and their approach to work.
This range of ages and varied needs can present challenges for managers. But it can also provide your workplace with some unique benefits.
You just need to know how to maximise the potential within your team.
Read on for some insight into maximising the generation gap at your workplace.
Getting To Know The Generations
Although managers must be mindful of generalising or stereotyping individuals according to factors such as age and generation, it is helpful to understand the climate in which each generation developed.
The broader categorisation of employees by generation can provide insight such as values, communication style, and technical capability. Here are the generations currently in the workforce.
- Traditionalists/the silent generation – born before 1945
- Baby boomers – born between 1946 and 1964
- Gen X – born between 1965 and 1980
- Millennials/Gen Y – born between 1981 and 1996
- Gen Z – born mid 1990’s to mid-2000s
Right now, millennials and gen X dominate the workforce, although millennials are expected to make up the majority of it in the coming decade.
The Challenges Of The Generation Gap In The Workplace
Research conducted among CFOs found that different communication styles were among the most significant hurdles in managing a multigenerational workforce. This was followed closely by differing abilities to adapt to change, then differing technical skills.
For example, millennials tend to prefer a coaching style of management and baby boomers relate better to the more traditional method. Gen X like to learn by instructor-led courses, and millennials would rather utilise a technology-based approach to development.
There are also differences in team culture and motivation. This is why it’s vital for managers of diverse teams to take the time to get to know each employee and adjust their management style accordingly. One size will not fit all when it comes to communication!
Although parents of teenagers may disagree, different generations don’t have to butt heads about everything! They can actually work together quite harmoniously. Even using their differences to complement each other.
Understanding their drivers and motivations can help you create a work environment that all ages will appreciate.
Millennials and boomers alike highly value flexible work schedules. Boomers, Gen X and millennials appreciate working for value-driven companies. And all generations are looking for businesses with excellent employee recognition programs and a strong workplace culture.
The Benefits Of The Generation Gap
As we just mentioned, there are many ways that you can use the generation gap to your advantage. Here are some ideas of how to do that:
Each generation brings a different set of skills. By encouraging mentorship and collaboration between age-groups, you can ensure these skills are shared. Rather than always investing in complex training programs, you can pair up employees to teach one another.
According to a study by Forbes, diversity is one of the key drivers of innovation. All those different backgrounds, opinions, and perspectives can provide a fantastic springboard for new ideas. Encourage feedback and idea sharing in your workplace and you will be amazed by what the team comes up with.
A diverse range of skills
The younger generations may have stronger digital skills, having been familiar with tablets and computers for most of their lives. But Gen X and beyond tend to have solid interpersonal skills from the years spent making phone calls and writing letters. Maximise all of these areas in your business by assigning the right tasks to the people with the best suited skills.
When problem-solving or brainstorming, it’s refreshing to hear from a range of people with differing world views. Each perspective offers a new thought process and a bigger pool of ideas to work with. By collaborating together, you can come up with effective, multi-faceted solutions.
As your employees move on – either retiring or heading elsewhere - you need to make sure the skills most essential to your business are retained. A multigenerational workforce provides the perfect opportunity for mentorship programs to achieve longevity and sustainability within your team.
An attractive brand
As it should be, diversity in the workplace is a hot topic these days. Skilled candidates and savvy consumers alike are looking for businesses where diversity is celebrated and encouraged. A multigenerational organisation is likely to be more attractive both to top talent and to customers.
Research has shown that teams with a mix of older and younger workers experience higher productivity. They create a collective energy that is powerful and generates real results.
A generationally-diverse work culture can bring its own set of challenges, but it also brings a slew of benefits. If managers can effectively communicate with, motivate and understand the different generations, they will be rewarded with a productive, innovative, and attractive workplace.
Regardless of the kind of candidates you are hunting for, LD Recruit can help you find them! We have the skills and contacts to attract a diverse range of candidates for any role. Get in touch with us today to discuss your needs in more detail.