Written by: Amor Traceski
Successfully managing a multi-generational workforce is no easy task, but it can be done. Yes, the aspirations, values and workstyles of each generation differs, creating misunderstandings and conflict in communication. However, according to Shannon Gausepohl of Business News Daily, “Understanding what people value and what motivates them makes it much easier to communicate job expectations, offer the right type of support and even make adjustments that will better suit a team’s performance.”
These are the generations that are represented in the workplace now:
|GENERATION NAME/S||YEARS / PERIOD||AGE RANGES as of 2021|
|Baby Boomers||Born 1946 – 1964||57 –75 years old|
|Generation X aka GenX||Born 1965 – 1980||41 –56 years old|
|Generation Y aka GenY aka Millennials||Born 1981 – 1996||25 –40 years old|
|Generation Z aka iGenaka Zoomers||Born 1997 – 2012||09 –24 yearsold|
It is critical for you to first understand what each generation in your workplace values and how these play into their communication and work styles. Here’s an overview.
|GENERATION NAME/S||Descriptor||WHAT THEY VALUE||REASON / INFLUENCE|
|Baby Boomers||“Workaholics”who tend to put work before personal lives. Seemingly self-interested. The “Me Generation.”||• Ambition |
• Monetary Security
|This is based on their past experience with Vietnam, Woodstock, Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, Kennedy’s Assassination, Watergate, record inflation and the dot.com bust, which wiped out many of their retirement savings, forcing them to work into their retirement years to recoup their financial losses.|
|Generation X||“LatchKey Kids” who are suspicious of authority figures. They dislike being micromanaged.||• Strong Work-Life Balance |
• Ability to Maintain their Independence
• Straightforward Communication
|Many of these were children of divorced parents. During their time, they were also exposed to highly publicized political scandals (Watergate, Iranian Hostage Crisis, end of the Vietnam War), significant world events (Fall of the Berlin Wall, End of Cold War, AIDS, Live Aid, Challenger Disaster) and the influence of MTV.|
|Generation Y aka GenY aka Millennials||First generation to grow up with the internet since birth. First global-centric generation.||• Meaningful Life Experiences |
• The Company’s Commitment to the Mission Statement over Just Turning a Profit
• Inclusivity, Diversity and Purpose more than Monetary
|First generation to grow up with the internet since birth. They naturally gravitate toward digital forms of communication over phone calls or in person meetings. Influences were 9/11, Columbine High School Shooting, Internet Explosion, PlayStation, Google, Social Media, Video Games, Y2K, Invasion of Iraq, Reality TV, and Google Earth.|
|Generation Z aka iGen aka Zoomers||“Selfie,” “App” or “Trans” Generation. Raised in the era of smartphones.Diverse and Entrepreneurial.||• Fair Compensation |
• Direct & constructive performance feedback
• Hands-on Training Managers Who Value their Opinion.
• The Freedom to Work Independently; Flexible Schedule
• Companies That Demonstrate Their Commitment to a Broad Set of Societal Challenges, e.g. Sustainability, Climate Change, and Hunger.
|Raised with businesses like AirBnB, Uber, etc. which allows them to see how easy and simple it is to use your own time and resources to make money. Exposed to more liberal ways of thinking and living.|
Brought up during the Great Recession, the Economic Downturn, Sandy Hook, ISIS, Marriage Equality, the First Black President, Rise of Populism, Global Warming, Global Focus, Energy Crisis, Wiki-Leaks and increase in the use of Mobile Devices.
Have you heard older generations describe the younger generations as “lazy,” “entitled,” or “tech-obsessed?” Have you heard younger generations describe the older generations as “stubborn,” “set in their ways” and “difficult to train?” Well, these are stereotypes that you need to consciously recognize and put a stop to in your organization. Generational judgments cause dysfunction that leads to conflict and instability.
You can use the above overview to guide you and your managers on ways to communicate with your employees and encourage them to adapt and learn from each other. The key to uniting and strengthening your multigenerational workforce is in promoting Respectful Communication. Here’s an exercise you can use:
- Meet with your employees/workers and have each generation sit together.
- Give them 20 minutes to discuss amongst themselves the items listed below.
- Write the answers on flipchart paper.
- What their generation values in the work and company
- What their preferred communication style is and why
- How they see their generation supporting their co-workers
- What value they believe they bring to the entire organization
- When time is up, instruct each generational group to present their answers.
- Allow for a question-and-answer session afterwards.
The objective of this Respectful Communication Exercise is to further understanding and appreciation of everyone’s differences AND what each brings to the table. Older, more experienced workers can serve as career mentors and guide their younger team members while Millennials and Zoomers can leverage their energy and enthusiasm to keep the Baby Boomers and Millennials engaged and prevent them from falling victim to burnout. The younger generations can also inspire the older generations with new innovative solutions and ways of working, especially with technology. No judgment, stereotyping, or assumptions.
When you implement the above, demonstrate flexibility and use a healthy mix of verbal, written, and digital communication channels to address your employees, you create space for knowledge sharing and recognition of the value that each generation brings to the company.
Without a doubt, it will take time for everyone to process and implement this new and improved workstyle. Nevertheless, keep a sharp focus on moving forward as you progress together. In time, you will be able to look back with pride in seeing the strong and united multigenerational workforce you created. Not only will your business thrive from the wealth of knowledge that comes together, but you will have also created a strong foundation for future multi-generations to build upon!
About the author:
Amor Traceski is a Human Resources Consultant with over 20 years of experience in human resources management in various fields of industry. She is also a motivational speaker, life coach and author of Been There, Done That: Practical Tips & Wisdom from Cancer Survivors for Cancer Patients.
Learn more about Amor online at https://www.amortraceski.com/