Managing the Multigenerational Workplace

Take a peek around your workplace. Who are your colleagues? Do you see any significant age differences? You’re in the majority if you do.

Something unusual is happening in today’s workplace, as you may have noticed. For the first time in history, older generations are remaining in the workforce for longer periods of time. The workforce is currently the most age-diverse it has ever been, thanks to the influx of younger generations.

In today’s workplace, there can be up to five generations working together:

  • Traditionalists are characterised by pride, prudence, and loyalty.
  • Baby boomers are known for their work ethic, competitiveness, and ambition.
  • Generation X is known for its self-reliance, independence, and entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Millennials are known for being tech-savvy and gregarious, as well as having a high regard for independence, flexibility, and feedback.
  • Generation Zers are social, tech-savvy, and entrepreneurial, and are defined by their diversity and innovation.

When you mix all of the above generations together, you’re going to run into issues like communication breakdowns, interpersonal conflicts, and differing work preferences. Your team is also vulnerable to stereotyping and bias.

Despite the difficulties, you can bridge the generation gap by using a variety of communication styles, providing work options, and encouraging cross-generational relationships.

Here are some ideas you may find useful:

  • Establish and foster communication.
  • Avoid stereotypes.
  • Be actively involved.
  • Use the right tools.
  • Avoid the ‘one size fits all’ approach.
  • Create a work-life balance.

Taking a personalised approach is at the heart of any effective plan. Treat your team members as individuals first. Understanding the differences across generations is beneficial, but there are no absolutes.

Finally, the most successful managers concentrate on individuals rather than categories.

The key takeaways

The workforce is currently the most age-diverse it has ever been, thanks to the influx of younger generations.

Traditionalists are characterised by pride, prudence, and loyalty.

Baby boomers are known for their work ethic and competitiveness.

Generation X is known for its self-reliance, independence, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Millennials are known for being tech-savvy and gregarious, as well as having a high regard for independence, flexibility, and feedback.

Generation Zers are social, tech-savvy, and entrepreneurial, and are defined by their diversity and innovation.

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