Today’s businesses are becoming increasingly diverse in age demographics. Baby boomer employees are working longer and Generation Z is making its debut into the workforce this year. Multi-generational workplaces are becoming increasingly common. Maneuvering through the differences that come with a multi-generational workplace can feel like a maze at first, but they provide a great opportunity to learn from one another and thrive in business. Here we’re sharing our best tips for thriving in your multi-generational workplace.
Break Down Stereotypes
Virtually every generation has been subjected to unflattering stereotypes. For example, Gen Z has no interpersonal skills, Millennials are lazy, Gen Xers are selfish, and Baby Boomers don’t understand technology. Regardless of what society thinks, each individual is unique. In the professional workplace, it’s important to ignore the stereotypes that surround your coworkers merely because of their age. Not only do stereotypes create an unpleasant work environment, but they also cause a lack of respect and hinder employee relationships, which can create negative long-term effects on your business. Today’s successful business leaders advocate for a mix of younger talent and veteran employees. Oracle’s Mark Hurd stated on various occasions that the Oracle actively recruits recent college grads and has actually surveyed employees to find millennials, in fact, don’t fit the stereotypes surrounding them.
If an organization struggles to get past generational stereotyping, managers can address the issue by encouraging more intergenerational collaboration. Mentorship programs can also be incredibly effective. By providing an opportunity for individuals to get to know each other and demonstrate their unique knowledge base, employees can develop a greater sense of respect and appreciation for each other.
Merge Working Styles
Generational differences naturally contribute to contrasting working styles. Each generation has a different idea of what constitutes an ideal work environment. Although Baby Boomers may prefer a more traditional business environment, Gen Z employees may favor more flexible hours and work-from-home options. Ultimately, it’s best to cater to employees’ preferences and offer them the opportunity to work in the most productive environment possible. The struggle, in this case, comes with the attempt to balance employee autonomy with a unified work culture.
To avoid any misunderstandings, leaders and employees may want to communicate their individual work preferences. Face-to-face team building exercises can foster relationships and help employees understand each other more intimately than digital communications may allow for.Managers can also organize an informal meeting if a project requires intergenerational collaboration. Preemptively identifying when team members are expected to be in the office, available on chat, and adhere to other guidelines can help avoid any potential confusion.
Cultivate An Inclusive Culture
The definition of company culture has seemingly evolved since millennials have entered the workforce. Although the general assumption is that younger generations only want arbitrary perks like snack dispensers or a casual dress code, this alone does not constitute a work culture. A pleasant company environment that offers room for growth and the opportunity to engage in satisfying work contributes to greater productivity. CEO and co-founder of Sharestates, Allen Shayanfekr, recognizes that one of the toughest and most important aspects of running a business is creating a positive company culture. Particularly, with multigenerational companies, establishing a culture that best suits your employees’ range of unique preferences is a challenging yet rewarding journey.
Set Clear Expectations
It is suggested that company leadership clearly states what is expected of employees, regardless of generational differences. When laid out from the very beginning, consistent expectations will help employees understand their role and lead to greater overall company success. Business can maintain this level of success when the entire workforce has a common goal in mind.
Businesses can use the differences within their multi-generational workforce to their advantage. Every individual has their strengths and weaknesses, and perceived differences across generations can work together to create a more well-rounded workforce. In general, most employees want to be treated with respect. Showing appreciation for each employee and rewarding them for the value they provide will always be well received. If you employ the right people, individual differences that seemed like an initial challenge will translate to a capable and diverse workforce.
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