How to Manage a Multigenerational Workplace
Dec 29, 2022 · 8 mins read ·People Management
Employees around the world handle workplace problems in different ways depending on which generation they were born into.
Their generational bracket also affects their work methods and the way they build relationships with their colleagues, along with the authorities of their company.
To start, a multigenerational workplace has a workforce consisting of employees belonging to different generations – one of the best assets a company or a business can have.
If you are an HR manager or a business leader, how can you tap into the unique talents of your generational employees?
Read on and we'll show you how managing and appreciating a multigenerational workplace can unlock wonders in the progress of your company.
Let's get started!
Five generations in the workforce and their characteristics
For various reasons, there are employees who choose to continue their employment and don't retire at the age of 60.
This is why it is common for companies to have personnel whose ages range from four to five different generations working side by side nowadays.
Moreover, recent research reveals that generational differences could be beneficial to the team and the company.
Here are the five generations you can find in your workforce:
- Traditionalist or Silent Generation
According to a study conducted by the University of South Florida, this age group tends to be loyal to the company. They respect authority and have a "company first" belief.
- Baby Boomers
They are also known as the "workaholics." They usually work long hours to establish their self-worth, identity, and fulfillment.
- Generation X
Members of Generation X are not keen on working longer hours as they would rather "work smarter." They also tend to be self-reliant and organized.
Millennials are the technical and ambitious ones in the bunch and have the ability to multitask. Moreover, according to the employment website Indeed, millennials often seek ways to connect with colleagues and managers and volunteer feedback so that their career goals are known.
- Generation Z
This generation of young people prefers working flexible hours and in-person interactions. They are also more vocal about their desire for competitive wages, schedule flexibility, and benefits.
Benefits of a multigenerational workforce
If you’re thinking that you’ll have a hard time managing a multigenerational office, well, we suggest you think again – a multigenerational workforce has its own benefits!
The inclusion of a range of ages in a team adds value to the organization.
Experienced workers have more wisdom and knowledge gained from the duration of their stay in the corporate world that are essential in decision-making, while the younger ones are used to the quickly evolving technology and can adapt to the changes it brings right away.
With a multigenerational workforce, productivity is boosted consistently when the new ideas and the experience-based knowledge are combined.
Here are more advantages of having a multigenerational workforce:
- It drives innovation
In a Randstad study, 83% of respondents said working in an age-diverse team allows them to develop more creative ideas and solutions.
Younger people who saw the Digital Revolution as children are more open to embracing new technologies and agile working practices since they have had more exposure to digitalization and innovation.
On the other hand, more experienced professionals can assist by teaching the younger generation about their particular fields of expertise.
- Multiple perspectives
Different generations, of course, have different ways of viewing job responsibilities. Sharing viewpoints and insights inside and among the team brings a wide range of knowledge and abilities to allow innovation.
- Learning/mentoring opportunities
The more diverse a team is, the more opportunities there are for interaction and learning from one another's perspective. This offers chances for mentoring that are mutually beneficial.
Another growing trend is "reverse mentorship," in which more experienced workers are being paired and trained by younger employees on technology, social media, and current trends.
- Better problem-solving skills
Creative problem-solving is sparked by fusing different perspectives and skills. Life experience influences how we relate to and work with other people to resolve challenges and conflicts. Teams with age diversity can therefore offer a variety of approaches to solving issues.
- Better flexibility and adaptability
A team with a mix of generations may be more flexible and adaptable. This is due to the fact that employees of different ages typically have diverse skill sets.
Furthermore, a multigenerational workforce can also contribute to the development of a more well-rounded team. This can create a team that is more versatile and better equipped to handle obstacles at work.
- Stronger talent pipeline
Companies that tap into a broad range of knowledge, ideas, and strengths from each generation will have a distinct advantage in having a future-ready workforce.
A strong talent pipeline can also help employers save hiring expenses and concentrate their resources on developing training programs that enhance employee competencies and increase prospects for internal promotion.
Why do you need to avoid stereotypes?
As a leader, avoiding stereotypes is important when dealing with a multigenerational workforce. This simply means avoiding making assumptions about people based only on their age.
For instance, you might believe that Millennials are entitled or that Baby Boomers are averse to change. (Don’t give in to that thinking!)
These assumptions may result in bias at work. If you are biased against someone, you are less likely to treat someone fairly and this may result in discrimination and exclusion.
It is critical to get to know each person on an individual basis to avoid bias. By doing this, you may see people for who they are rather than just their age – which can foster a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
Emphasizing shared goals in a multigenerational workplace
Most companies now recognize the need for diversity and inclusion.
Besides the generational factor we're talking about here, they also consider the variety of ethnicities, races, nationalities, sexual orientation, and religions – to be discussed in other posts – as essential components in a progressive business.
Speaking of progress, another important element is emphasizing shared goals. By doing this, both older and younger employees can see themselves working hand in hand toward a common goal.
In fact, focusing on similarities or a common direction can lessen the notion of us versus them and establish and foster a sense of we.
How to manage a multigenerational workplace: conclusion
It is vital to understand the benefits and drawbacks of your multigenerational team that come with managing employees of various ages.
When you understand their differences, you'll learn what management style and programs can bridge the gaps between your multigenerational employees – in terms of experience and skills (e.g. mentorship programs) – and establish the fact that they can rely on one another.
This will help you harness their distinct talents and maintain a healthy environment in the workplace at the same time.
Having a multigenerational workforce is like having a reservoir of rich learning, skills, and experience. Make sure to put biases out of the picture and you'll see how your employees of different ages can shine in their own way and make your company attain greater heights!