There are now more generations in the workplace collaborating on projects than ever before. People are entering the workforce sooner and retiring later, resulting in this unique overlap. Moreover, there are five generations of employees who are working together for the first time in history.
Managing employees across multiple generations is a challenge faced by company owners across industries. Each generation brings unique skills, strengths, and levels of experience to your workplace. Ensuring that everyone gets along is the best way to take advantage of your office’s diversity without causing unnecessary or disruptive conflict.
What Do Multiple Generations in the Workplace Mean?
Regardless of industry or area of business, learning how to keep multiple generations happy is a crucial skill. Understanding the age ranges involved can be helpful.
- In general, traditionalists were born before 1946;
- Boomers or Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964;
- Employees born between 1965 and 1976 make up Generation X;
- Millennials were born between 1977 and 1997;
- Gen2020 is the common name for those born after 1997.
Keeping each generation happy seems tricky, but is not impossible. They key to fostering a collaborative, positive working environment is to encourage communication between generations. A solid grasp on the viewpoints and perspective of each generation can help the others communicate more effectively. For example, a boomer and a millennial may come from different backgrounds. But each can develop new and innovative ideas when working together. Keeping each generation happy helps to keep your workplace communicative and productive.
How to Manage Generations in the Workplace
Anyone who runs a business should know how to handle multiple generations in the workplace effectively. These skills are particularly important for human resources managers and office managers, as they work in close contact with staff members. Keeping each generation happy tends to make both positions much easier. Human resources complaints drop in workplaces with a positive atmosphere. Office managers often find their staff members foster a friendly environment when everyone gets along well.
Supervisors and those in upper management positions should receive some training on promoting cross-generational harmony within the workplace. If issues do pop up, your human resources manager or office manager needs to look to you for guidance. Having the tools available to create a more positive working environment prevents those types of concerns from arising. It also helps make your job a lot easier. Instead of focusing on interpersonal issues, you can concentrate on expanding your company’s bottom line.
Ways in Which More Generations in the Workplace Help Your Business
Studies show that happy employees are more productive and create a more positive working environment as a whole. Employees that are satisfied with their jobs call in sick less often and tend to go above and beyond for the company. Human resources managers, office managers, and senior staff need to work together to create a positive, happy atmosphere. Creating this type of workplace begins when you hire new employees and does not end. Constantly check in with your staff to ensure morale remains high, and the workplace stays friendly.
Take a look at the tips below and discuss them with your management team. Following through on many of these suggestions can create the type of positive, happy atmosphere your workplace needs. Remember, It is never too late to start creating this kind of working environment.
If you notice a lot of pre-existing conflict, seek out a human resources expert. These individuals have many years of experience creating positive working environments by smoothing over differences between generations. Listen and follow through with their advice. A positive working environment translates to bigger revenue for the company.
How to Make Sure that Generations in the Workplace Get Along
1. Ensure Written Communication Is Clear
- Use clear and concise language in any form of written communication.
- Define vague terms as specifically as possible.
- Also, encourage staff members to approach you with any questions or concerns.
- Where possible, provide two points of contact in case you are not available.
Clearing up confusion about words, phrases, and written instructions reduce conflict in the office resulting from miscommunication.
2. Create Unique Mentorship Opportunities for Your Employees
Creating mentorship opportunities gives you the chance to encourage communication across generations.
- Consider asking an older staff member to mentor a new hire who happens to be a younger generation.
- Many offices also offer reverse mentorships, where a younger staff member mentors an older one, training them on new technology.
Mentorships like these encourage both generations to share information and to connect on a personal level.
3. Organize Team Building Exercises
Reach out to an external agency that specializes in organizing team-building exercises involving multiple generations. They can develop games and other events aimed at encouraging collaboration and communication between generations.
4. Understand Unique Generational Needs and Try to Meet Them
Each generation you employ has slightly different needs.
- For example, traditionalists work well with written lists and micro-managed tasks.
- Gen X tends to prefer a work-life balance and would like to take advantage of a flexible schedule without micro-management.
- Where possible, offer working solutions that are suitable for all generations.
- If this is not possible, consult an expert to develop a fair and reasonable compromise that appeals to your staff.
5. Provide Feedback Tailored Toward Each Generation
Everyone needs feedback to improve, regardless of industry or age. However, each generation responds to feedback differently.
- Take the time to learn the best way to communicate praise and criticism to each generation.
- For example, traditionalists often prefer written memos detailing areas of strength and improvement.
- A millennial may respond better to feedback given in person.
This effort helps your staff members accept and respond to criticism in a more efficient way.
To the Smiles
More generations are working together in professional settings now than ever before. Utilizing the tips above fosters a happier, more positive environment for all generations in the workplace.
Are there any strategies you or your colleagues use to keep your staff of multiple generations happy? List them in the comments below.