Multigenerational Workplace Issues
Baby Boomers and Gen Xers and Millennials. . . OH MY! Companies today often have teams with a wide range of ages. Age ranges can be wonderful. When every person entering an office comes in with different life experiences, perspectives and views it can add value to a company. But let’s face it, there are stark differences in the values, communication styles and work habits of each generation as well. Workplaces can, in theory, have employees ranging from 18-80. That is a huge range. Businesses in all fields are quickly becoming aware of issues that have become pronounced due to these age ranges. Let’s take a look at the potential issues and some solutions for bridging this multigenerational workforce gap.
- Get to know each person and generation and what their concerns may be. For example, the millennial generation of workers would choose workplace flexibility, work/life balance and the opportunity for overseas assignments over financial rewards, according to a NexGen survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Baby Boomers prefer more traditional classroom or paper-based training. They also have retirement and stability on their mind. Generation Xers prefer to learn on the internet and work well independently. They may be concerned with working their way up the corporate ladder.
- Negative stereotypes for each generation exist, so try to dispel these and show each what they have in common. For example, Forbes Magazine points out that, “Ultimately all employees want the same thing — to be engaged at work and to have a good manager who acts as a coach and helps them achieve their specific career goals.”
- Embrace different communication styles. According to Business New Daily, “Preferred communication styles have almost become a cliché: Generation Y sends text messages, tweets and instant messages to communicate, while Baby Boomers and older Gen Xers tend to prefer phone calls and emails. Throw in that younger workers tend to use abbreviations, informal language and colloquialisms, and you’ve got a recipe for serious communication breakdowns. Business leaders should set the example of the company line on communication and create an environment where face-to-face communication is valued and embraced. But don’t ever be afraid to embrace the differing communication methods.