Everyone’s demanding diversity in the workplace, and companies are even identifying themselves as equal-opportunity employers. As they should be.
Often this diversity refers to gender, sexual orientation, and race. But what about age? Nothing shows diversity like an age gap, and companies are starting to realise that. The main reason for diversity is inclusivity, but it also makes business better.
A multi-generational workforce can seem like lots of in-house fighting waiting to happen. With many generations in one workplace, clashes are inevitable, but that’s nothing conflict resolution can’t fix. One generation can learn from the other, making employee training easier, especially if you’re incorporating learning management systems within the workplace.
Many workplaces have up to four generations in their workforce. These are:
- Baby Boomers: 1946 to 1964
- Generation X: 1965 and 1976
- Millennials (also known as Generation Y): 1977 and 1997
- Generation Z: born after 1997
There is some discrepancy in the exact years that distinguish certain generations. For example, some sources define Millennials as people born between 1981 and 1994.
The statistics of each of those generations in the global workforce are as follows:
- Traditionalists: 2%
- Baby Boomers: 25%
- Generation X: 35%
- Millennials and GenZ: 38%
The numbers show the decline of older generations and the rise of Millennials in the global workforce. Based on this trend, Millennials are on track to constitute 50% of the workforce by 2020 and by 2025 they’ll make up 75% of the global workforce. Forecasts also suggest that Generation Z will make up about a quarter of the workforce in this same year.
Definition of Generation
A generation is a group of people all born around the same time. They’re believed to exhibit similar traits and characteristics. Although that seems stereotypical, those characteristics differentiate one generation from the other.
Baby Boomers have a strong work ethic, mostly because they tie their self-worth to their career. They pursue titles and material acquisitions, always working towards personal success.
Although they embrace technology, they prefer in-person communication. Baby Boomers like to be part of a team and maintain a positive outlook.
Most of this generation had working parents and spent most of the day alone, hence the nickname “latchkey generation.” They’re independent, adaptable, and can be sceptical toward authority.
Their need for security motivates them, and they prefer to work alone, only asking for feedback if necessary. As far as technology goes, Generation X’ers are quite tech-literate.
It’s no surprise that millennials are technology experts. They’re confident, comfortable with multitasking, and require regular feedback. Having a work-life balance is crucial for them, as well as their belief that they can change the world.
They prefer work that improves society, especially in sustainability and diversity. Besides that, Millennials love the opportunity to learn and advance.
Like Millennials, this generation consists of digital natives. Although it’s still early to characterise them, Gen tends to be creative, open-minded, and happy to use their skills. Feedback and rewards are essential to them, and they prefer flexible lifestyles over money. They like structured, small teams, and have a strong commitment to social responsibility.
Challenges of Managing a Multi-Generational Team
Having a multi-generational team may create conflict in the workplace. Some of the problems a manager might face in managing a multi-generational team are:
When older and younger generations need to communicate, it’s unlikely that they’ll use similar methods. The former may reach for the phone, while the latter sends an instant message (emojis included).
The different communication styles make it hard to create good workplace multi-generational communication. As a manager, you’ll also find it hard to communicate in a way that suits every generation.
Unfortunately, negative stereotypes exist across generations, especially for the younger ones. They’re often referred to as lazy, entitled, overconfident, and tech-obsessed by older generations.
The older generations aren’t the only ones who “throw shade” though. The young ones label seniors as stiff, insensitive, and afraid of change.
Such stereotypes cause prejudice and conflicts based on gross generalizations. Managers get caught in the middle because their point of view usually aligns with their generation and clashes with the others.
A pleasant work environment encourages productivity. But, what’s ideal for some generations won’t match the company culture others prefer. Creating a strategy for performance reviews that suit all generations can also be hard, although you can work around that with performance management software.
Diversity and inclusion are the core advantages of having multi-generational teams. Other benefits are:
- Multiple Perspectives — Different views from each generation help with identifying and combating weaknesses.
- Innovation — Young generations have unique ideas that older ones bring to life with their skills.
- Fresh Insights — Combined with wisdom from older generations, these help the business advance.
- Different Skills — Older generations have more industry experience. Younger ones have a good grasp of technology. Combining such skills improves business.
- Growth — Accommodating all generations in a workforce creates a dynamic atmosphere that encourages growth.
- Competitive Advantage — Your business becomes more attractive to fresh talent because of inclusivity.
- Satisfied Customers — A workforce that matches your customers’ demographic helps you meet their needs better.
- Better Employee Experience — Sharing of skills across generations promotes a positive employee experience and increased productivity.
- A Better Business — The outcome of the company improves from combining multi-generational skills and experience.
- Better Reputation — so a business that incorporates that gets popular.
The world is pushing for diversity and rightly so. Times are changing and you better get on board before you’re left behind in the dust. There’s strength in diversifying your workforce. The key to using it lies in viewing the differences as an opportunity for growth and enabling your employees to become collaborative partners.
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