The Ultimate Guide To Managing Multigenerational Workforce In 2021 And Beyond.
Decoding the generation gap: Why organizations must understand generational differences at work!
Leaders can build a strong organization and team by focusing on the similarities between generations. Although the differences between these generations can seem daunting, it's worth noting their many similarities.
It is also important to recognize the value of diversity and work with people who have different communication styles. Here are some ways that organizations can bridge this generation gap and harness it in a constructive way despite the uncertain times and changing scenarios at the workplace.
First, let us understand what are the different generations at the workplace
The 5 Generations
- The silent generation, people born between 1929 and 1945
- Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964
- Generation x - Born between 1965 and 1980
- Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996
- Generation Z- Born between 1997 and 2012
Research says Baby Boomers and Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z will make up 99.3% of the US workforce by 2025.
The rise in financial obligations and life expectancy has led to a substantial increase in people working beyond the traditional retirement age. While this can be an advantage, it comes with unique challenges.
What are the problems faced in the multigenerational workplace?
1. Communication Gaps
Not only are these generations differ in their work styles, but they also have different communication styles. Each generation uses technology in a different way to communicate. The Baby Boomers will use technology to improve productivity but prefer to communicate face to face or via the phone.
On the other hand, younger generations embrace instant messaging and email communication. Both these styles can lead to miscommunication and lack of communication.
2. Work Ethic
Each generation has its own work style, so they are likely to clash at times. While the Baby Boomers enjoy long working hours and prefer to work on-site, Gen Y employees and Gen Z prefer more flexibility and the ability to work remotely. And in the current scenario of crisis led work from home, not all generations look at this in the same way.
Different generations of employees have different preferences regarding how they receive feedback or collaborate with colleagues in the workplace. It's difficult to work together smoothly without the right management strategies in place.
3. Conflict Risk
Each generation is unique and has different characteristics and values. There is the potential for conflicts due to conflicting work ethics and communication styles.
Employers face many problems when dealing with generational differences. Employers often face problems when employees are years apart in age and work together. This can lead to conflict, which reduces employee engagement as well as decreases productivity.
4. Lack of Understanding and Collaboration
There are multiple generations between Boomers and Gen Z workers, so it is not surprising that they might be at odds. They simply cannot relate.
This can lead to a lack of understanding among team members, which can make it difficult for people from different generations to communicate and work together effectively as a team. In today's work-from-home environment, this is even more problematic as the number of social interactions is decreased and lack of team bonding as all the conversations shifted to virtual rooms and chat windows.
The best practices to solve the multigenerational workplace problems
1. Encourage Mentorship.
Every generation at work has a wealth of knowledge and experience they can share.
The Boomers, for instance, can help you share the knowledge, information, and perspectives that they have acquired over many years. And a Generation Y friend can help them learn about new innovations such as viral marketing and social media. As a manager, fostering a culture of reverse mentorship in both in-person or virtual platforms can strengthen relationships across different generations.
Success is achieved when a multi-generational workforce is valued, respected, and benefited from one another's talents and experiences. To thrive in today's workplace, it is important to put emphasis on individual strengths rather than on differences between generations.
2. Allow Flexibility
Each generation has different working styles and desires. Older generations have fewer responsibilities at home and are more open to working part-time or shorter hours in order to reap the rewards of a lifetime's worth of work. Generation Xers are now part of the " Sandwich generation," which cares for their elders and their children in addition to their work. And with the current crisis, this generation might struggle with lack of productivity and work burnout, if organizations don't allow flexibility. Gen Y members often find that a social life outside work is as important as their careers. This demands workplace flexibility based on different generational needs in both remote workplaces and offices is very important to reap the benefits of managing different generations at work.
3. Life Paths To Consider
You can inspire and motivate employees older or younger than you by thinking like an anthropologist. Think about where your employees are at the moment in their lives, and what their needs are. Younger workers, for example, don't typically have many obligations outside of work. Instead, they seek out new opportunities and experiences that will motivate them. Employees in their 30's or 40's have more flexibility than "money and advancement. And employees near the end of their careers may not be as interested or motivated to learn, but they want work that is interesting and provides work-life balance. "Understanding these predictable life paths will help to determine the best way to distribute projects, and to manage and motivate your employees.
4. Balance Job Safety And Purpose
Being purpose-driven and providing safety can bring stability even in the face of disruption and foster employee satisfaction. The key to managing the generation gap in the workplace is to empower employees and treat them with respect, understand their needs, motivational drivers and what work means to them. No matter what the socio-economic circumstances and environments each generation grew in, their fundamental needs are the same. The collaboration will be facilitated if organizations are able to capitalize on these similarities and not focus on differences. Only they can thrive through all the challenges of a multigenerational workplace in 2021.
5. Use Different Communication Styles
Many generations have their preferred method of communication. Silents, Boomers, and Generations X and Y prefer one-on-1, telephone, or written communication. Generation Z is more open to social media collaboration.
You should communicate with each generation in different ways because they have different communication styles. You can learn about the preferences of each employee and then adapt to them. Also, different generations can benefit from each other. You can encourage reverse mentoring' programs where younger employees help older ones get comfortable with social media platforms.
There are differences between generations in how formal they are. While older colleagues tend to be more formal, their younger colleagues will use more colloquialisms and abbreviations. Emojis are small digital icons and images that can be used to express ideas and emotions. This is best suited to personal, or less important communications. It is not a good idea to use smiley face emoticons for important or serious messages.
You can alienate others by sticking rigidly to your preferred communication method and style.
6. Find Common Ground With Them And Work Together To Strengthen Their Bonds
Instead of dwelling on the differences, think about the things that bring you together with colleagues from all generations.
Sometimes it can be hard to find commonalities between you and younger or older team members. Despite how stark the differences may seem, research indicates that there is more common ground than differences between the generations. Most people want to be involved in their work, receive fair compensation, have a better quality of life, feel valued, respected and loved. Many people have similar complaints about feeling underpaid or overworked. To engage all generations and keep the social interactions alive, it is important for leaders to encourage virtual team building sessions. It could be as simple as initiating a weekly team lunch or daily virtual check-in or a monthly virtual day off filled with exciting fun activities or an online quick team bonding session.
7. Set The Boundaries Right While Working From Home
Working from home can lead to tension within teams if it isn't managed well. For example, older employees might find it frustrating that their younger colleagues are unwilling to answer the phone and resolve a problem immediately. Younger employees might feel that their work-life balance may be at risk in remote environments if they are expected to be immediately responsive and available. So it is important to set the boundaries right. For example, There can be core hours for a few, with some flexibility for the rest. Are all employees required to participate in regular team check-ins? Is there a set time for clients and colleagues to respond to emails? This will reduce the likelihood of conflict and resentment from colleagues and clients due to their different work styles.
8. Make Sure You Don't Make Wrong Assumptions About Them
It is easy for people to stereotype other groups. You might stereotype Millennials as being tech-obsessed, lacking people skills if you're a Baby Boomer. Boomers might seem stubborn and inflexible to Generation Z.
Everybody is unique. Instead of being afraid of the worst, confront your unconscious bias, and instead accept people based upon their skills rather than stereotyping based on generations and wrong assumptions. By showing an openness to new ideas and suggestions and by sharing your knowledge and experience, you can change people's perceptions.
Benefits of Multigenerational Workplaces
Each generation is different in its way of thinking, solving problems and decision making. Using the right strategies for managing generational differences at the workplace, organizations with a multigenerational workforce can have a competitive edge over others.
- Understanding Different Audiences
Each generation is different, which can be a great asset for your business especially in unprecedented times like this, in understanding its wide variety of audience. Employing people from each generation helps you design better solutions based on the different needs of your target audience which is a great need in this crisis.
- Many Learning Opportunities
Employees can learn from each other, and not only the younger generation. Employees from different generations can share their knowledge and help each other find better ways to do business. One example is that a Boomer may know a quicker way to complete a tedious, manual task at the office than a worker who is more technologically proficient.
- Mentor Guidance
Mentoring is easier when there are multiple generations of employees. Many companies even started virtual mentoring programs to give their employees an opportunity to share their knowledge. But this can only happen when there is team bonding between different generations in teams. This program not only gives employees new skills but also helps them work together.
Organizations and leaders need to understand the role of HR in managing generational differences in the evolving workplace. Organizations that embrace differences as strengths and not threats can grow stronger with the advantage of innovation and better decision making with the multigenerational workforce in 2021 and beyond.