The modern-day workforce is completely diverse. Yes, we are talking about when it comes to age. Can’t believe it? It’s true. Business owners and executives are experiencing difficulty in managing multiple generations in the workplace. Each of these generations has different expectations, communication styles, and perspectives. Moreover, organizations must adopt a management strategy that addresses the distinctive characteristics of various generations, allowing the managers to harness the respective strengths of their workforce and compete well in the industry.
With the joining of the young generation into the workforce, the older generations opt to work longer. Do you think that a multigenerational workforce is a challenge? Although it presents some obstacles for employers, we as leaders must consider it a benefit instead of a challenge.
Multigenerational Workplace: Understanding the Generational Gap
A multigenerational workforce refers to personnel comprising people from different generations. We all are aware of the increasing lifespan of humans. Are you aware of its effect? Well, more individuals are choosing to work post-retirement age. If you notice the age diversity in the workforce, it is the widest ever now. Today’s organizations have employees belonging to four to five generations working simultaneously. These groups include:
- Silent generation or traditionalists (1928-1945)
- Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
- Generation X (1965-1980)
- Generation Y or Millennials (1981-1996)
- Generation Z (1997- 2012)
Do you know how this generation gap benefits an organization? These multiple generations expand an organization’s talent pool and shift its demographics. Despite the benefits, various organizations worldwide failed to significantly focus on the presence multigenerational workforce. As organizational leaders, we must consider all these age groups during our strategic workforce planning. We must find the best ways to attract, engage, retain, and develop our employees belonging across generations.
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The 5 Generations in the Workplace
Organizations try to create a diverse environment for employees by hiring professionals from diverse backgrounds, including from different generations. The descriptions of five generations describe their values, work habits, contributions to the workforce, and how managers approach the leading team.
Born between 1928 and 1945, the Silent Generation possesses reliable and royal traits. Although they comprise the minute section of the current workforce, they have the most experience to share and often act as mentors to the young workforce. Many generation members have overcome adverse economic conditions, thereby establishing diligent financial habits.
Since the generation grew up without technology and other modern conveniences, you can never expect them to become as tech-savvy as today’s generation. However, the generation appreciates advanced technology. Since they lack technological knowledge, they value personal interactions whenever they get the opportunity to meet face-to-face. Since they are not tech-savvy, they prefer offline options while completing tasks and creating a positive work environment.
These employees have a strong work ethic and hold traditional values. You might be shocked to know that they are always comfortable working on non-traditional days and hours. Speaking of work security, they love enjoying the same for their positions. As serious workforce members, they prefer formal attitudes and work environments instead of relaxed ones. Furthermore, the generation values and appreciates opportunities. They possess strong fundamental principles, such as loyalty towards their organization and its leaders.
The Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, comprise a large portion of an organization’s workforce. The birth rate increased during this phase as the parent of the Baby Boomers felt most optimistic about the economy. If you refer to them as the hard-working generation, you are thinking right about them. Besides, they are always ready to take risks to pursue their goals.
Have you ever interacted with Baby Boomers? If yes, did you notice their uniqueness? You will find these professionals’ dedication to their jobs and loyalty to their organizations. They possess a traditional mindset, which means they often value an established hierarchy of authority and responsibility. Although they do not need regular feedback for their jobs, they like having insights into professional development opportunities that help them succeed.
These professionals grew up without digital communication, making them more comfortable interacting during group meetings. These professionals are excellent risk-takers who create innovative workplaces and inspire teams. With their vast experience in organizations, they teach younger generations about relationship development and communication, making them excellent mentors.
These professionals born between 1965 and 1980 are a generation of independent people taking pride in their entrepreneurial spirit. The generation values flexible and relaxed environments. What’s special about them? These professionals possess a different mindset. They balance their teams, fill roles, and are independent when given tasks.
If you follow the generation closely, you will notice that they value freedom and flow into the organization. They favor work-life balance, diversity, and informal ways of improving teams and organizations. They enjoy working with others and diversify their routines to offer a personal touch to their lives.
Above all, the generation is comfortable using the organization’s traditional and modern approaches. Similar to face-to-face interviews, Gen Xers are equally comfortable with using technology, online recruitment, and hiring tools.
Born between 1981 and 1996, the millennials form the largest workforce in organizations. You might come across several professionals who started their careers during a recession, affecting their views on their long-term careers.
Managed by Gen X, millennials prefer a work-life balance and flexibility, which helps them develop the best relationships and mindsets on their team. Although their work ethics differs from their managers, these professionals seek smarter and more efficient means of working. How do the culture and mindset influence an organization? Their working style and culture spark innovative task-completion methods, ultimately leading to a start-up mentality. With their mindsets, they can spearhead projects and the best way to achieve their goals.
The generation witnessed the growth of technological advancements. Since they are comfortable with technology, they communicate electronically through texts, instant messages, and emails. Although they never dread efficient forms of communication like face-to-face conversations, phone calls, and letters, sometimes they get caught up in various devices like smartphones and other mobile devices.
Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z are the new kids with a global and progressive mindset that is valuable for any team. Although Gen Z grew during the rise of technology, they have a new way of thinking.
The young professionals seek job security and are loyal to their organizations. They prioritize authenticity, truth, and connectivity in their relationships and expect the same from their managers. Although newbies in the workforce, they prefer a flexible work environment, clear directions, and transparency about their work. They love flexible working hours and organizations valuing diversity and social responsibility.
These professionals grew with technological advancements. Therefore, they rely mostly on technologies, making them most adaptable to change. In terms of application, these professionals expect a technology-driven process, such as applications integrating with social media and mobile-optimized applicant tracking systems. They are eager to learn about career opportunities through social recruiting.
Multigenerational Workforce: Influence on Management Styles
Every generation of your organization’s workforce has some exceptions. Therefore, it is crucial to understand your employees’ general framework of experience. It helps you understand their reference point and strategize your organization’s management policies accordingly. Apply no one-size-fits-all approach to manage your multigenerational workforce, and you must adapt to the changes with the development and growth of your workforce.
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Bridging the Generational Gap
With vast experience and problem-solving skills, the multigenerational workforce significantly benefits your organization. Are you wondering the best ways to reap the benefits of your multigenerational workforce? You can consider hosting team-building exercises focusing on engaging multiple generations at the workplace and bringing employees together across departments.
Here are some important tips you can adopt to make every generation in your workforce seen and heard.
Organizational leaders must make a habit of checking in regularly with their employees, and the check-ins should not be only about work but also about life. When you start learning about the changes in your employees’ lives, you create trust in the workplace. Besides, the approach makes it easier for you to offer benefits that specifically suit each of the generations in the workforce.
Accept each generation’s skills and knowledge
Whether it is the skills learned in their schools or the world events they witnessed, every generation brings an innovative and unique life experience to the workplace. As leaders, we must help each generation thrive in the areas they learned and teach new skills from other generations. For instance, people often flag social media as something the younger generation can teach the older generations. However, knowledge transfers go both ways. Most Gen Z entered the remote workforce during the pandemic, and interpersonal skills like negotiating, networking, and speaking confidently are challenging. It’s something that they can learn from the older generations.
You can develop a mentorship program where the senior employees guide and nurture their younger coworkers. The two-way exchange helps the younger generations with the feedback they crave and helps them connect and see the preconceived differences.
Dispel generational stereotypes
You might come across some tech-savvy baby boomers, some millennials disliking remote work, and Gen Z can even be new parents. These are common characteristics and life stages for every generation; remember, there are infinite variations in each generation we might never know.
What’s the best way to prevent stereotypes? The best way is to encourage open and honest conversations in the workplace about age stereotypes. Create opportunities so that employees collaborate and socialize across generations and departments. You can also arrange non-hierarchical check-ins and mentorships across generations. It will offer opportunities for your employees to share stories, perspectives and foster understanding across generations.
When employees from varying generations work together, you will notice that they engage better and feel motivated in their roles, improving their morale and productivity. When you engage all the employees regardless of their generations, you build a better organization and make better-informed talent management decisions.