A multigenerational workforce is now comprised of Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials, and Gen Z. Four very different cultural eras and contexts are coming together in workplaces across the US. Getting along with others is essential for a productive working environment, and this may be difficult at times, especially when you have such a diverse workforce. With so many generations, understanding others and their backgrounds can help develop better working relationships.
One of the more common differences, is each group’s range of priorities. Boomers tend to prioritize face-to-face interaction and formality at work. While Millennials tend to prefer communication through technology, and there can be a difference in how each generation prioritizes their time. Some employees may have small children, while others are caring for aging family members. These differences in priorities and their respective preferences for how they communicate could create challenges at work. Try to learn and understand what each generation prioritizes.
Instead of prioritizing one way over another, consider a more personal approach to the multi-generational population. Get interested in your employees and their needs. In the end, it’s about creating trust. Once you understand what your employees need, you can find tools or programs to match. You can create benefits offerings to help the family-caretaker employee, and the single employee with an adorable cat. Despite different communication styles or other generational differences, it’s best to understand their pain points. Realize where communication or miscommunication happens, and implement specific strategies to bring clarity to the team instead of creating more policies that cause confusion, or favor one group over another.
You may also find Gen-Xers tend to be more adaptable to technology while Boomers often struggle to incorporate or change technology. You could come across millennials that are independent minded and prefer to work alone, while some Gen-Zers tend to be more team-oriented. Each generation has their strengths and seemingly disparate ways to accomplish a task. Not any one way is right or wrong, just different. Different is good, right?
Rather than using that one size fits all approach for the company, let every person use their skills to their advantage. Find ways to help your employees thrive. Use their strengths, but also create opportunities to learn new skills that will help each person fill in their gaps. Each group can shine in their separate skills while allowing for cross functional training. This is a great opportunity to begin a mentorship program that can guide each age group into learning, which only helps to grow a more positive and inclusive company culture.
An important thing to keep in mind is to stay away from any stereotypes or broad generalizations. Start by recognizing and understanding the needs of your employees. Provide inclusive benefits and create an environment that focuses on recognizing the strengths of your team and building on that foundation. This kind of mindset also helps companies pave the way for newer generations. Instead of embracing the idea that a company with multi-generational employees is a challenge that causes division between teams, get used to the idea that any future employee who joins your company, whether that be tomorrow or 10 years into the future, will find and enjoy an inclusive and innovative culture.