“Never in history has a workforce had four generations working together —until now.”
–Dr. Kevin Snyder, 2015 Compensation & Benefits Conference
So who are these four generations working so closely together? In most offices, you will find the:
- Matures- born from 1925 to 1946
- Baby Boomers- born from 1946 to 1964
- Generation Xers- born from 1965 to 1980
- Generation Yers or ‘Millennials’- born from 1981 to late 1990s
Each generation comes with their unique set of stereotypes and stigmas. While the Matures are seen as loyal but lousy with technology, the Millennial crew seem to attract the opposite perception. While many of these stereotypes are exaggerated, it is undoubtedly true that each generation possesses a distinct set of characteristics from one another.
For many managers, this could sounds like a bit of a headache. After all, who wants a bunch of groups with differing ideas, schedules, and motivations working together? It may sound like a nightmare, but it could actually be an advantage if these differences of habits are leveraged correctly.
To effectively manage your workplace, follow these Do’s and Don’ts to ensure the generations are working in tandem, and not against, one another.
Do know what each generation is looking for
Knowing your audience is a huge key to success. By understanding what each generation is looking for in a job, you can better manage their expectations and vastly improve their career contentment. Conduct surveys that poll your employees on what they find most rewarding about work. If you find that a large share of your Millennial employees are looking for a strong work culture, organize team lunches or wellness activities for them to take part in. If you find that many of your Mature employees desire one-on-one guidance, try to give them the extra personal attention that fulfills them. With a greater understanding of what makes each generation tick, you will be creating a more engaged, dynamic and productive workplace.
Don’t encourage generational separation
We all enjoy talking to someone we have a lot in common with, and shared age is a great and easy way to bond with a fellow employee. While many employees seem to naturally bond with coworkers of similar ages, it is important to discourage any extreme separation based around age in the office. By combining the varying tastes, attitudes and experiences of the multiple generations at your disposal, you will be fostering a healthy and collaborative dialogue between your employees. Though there is always a potential for conflict, your business would be missing out on the greater potential for new and dynamic teamwork by keeping the generations from working together.
Do recognize their varying strengths
Maybe you have a Millennial employee who’s great with technology, but not so effective when it comes to face-to-face interactions. Or the opposite situation could be true of a Boomer who thrives in personal interactions with others, but understandably lags behind in the tech department. Rather than spreading your employees too thin and expecting the Millennial and Boomer to become well-versed in their respective areas of weakness, recognize their independent strengths and leverage them together. If that means having the Millennial put together the PowerPoint and the Boomer giving the presentation, so be it. By appealing to each of the generation’s strengths, and not holding them hostage to their weaknesses, you will be doing your business and your employees a huge favor.
Don’t assume the generational stereotypes
As we said above, many of the generations possess differing ideals, skills and habits from one another. While it is important to recognize and leverage these varying strengths when you can identify them, do not assume that an employee will lack a certain skill or experience simply because it is not usually ascribed to their generation. By pigeonholing your employees to certain spheres along generational lines, you could be wasting heaps of potential. Be open-minded about each generation, and allow their strengths and experiences to present themselves in due course rather than forcing them into a box in which they may not belong.
If you would like to further discuss how you can more effectively manage a multigenerational workplace, please call our Advice and Resolution team today at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.