Handling A Multi-Generational Work Force

With retirement age being gradually pushed further — and Generation Z preferring to start work earlier, most workplaces currently have 5 (almost) different generations working together. And with this diverse and rather huge generation gap comes a series of complicated challenges. A general classification of this age group would be –

  • Silent Generation – Born before 1946
  • Baby Boomers – Born between 1946 – 1964
  • Generation X – Born between 1965 – 1980
  • Millennial’s – Born between 1981 – 1998
  • Generation Z – Born after 1998

Challenges are a part of any job — but handling a multitude of age groups together poses some rather unique ones. Here are a few common ones-

Age and values

Though over the age of 72 years the silent generation still forms 2% of the U.S. labor force. They comprise of doctors, scientists, lawyers, etc.

With age-diverse organizations, work style and attitudes also differ. While ripped jeans may be a cool dress code for Generation Z, it would probably shock the Baby Boomers. Stereotypical attributes may exist for each age group and generation.

Communication and changing work style

Tools of communication and interaction between these groups are another challenge faced. Especially when it comes to technology, not everyone is savvy with the diverse range of tools available. Constantly evolving and changing work styles is another problem that often leads to conflict in the workplace.

Managing challenges of a multi-generational workforce

No matter how big or small the workforce is, having a multi-generational one does come with its perks. Call it blending tradition with modernity; knowledge transfer is no one-way street. So here’s what you can do to make the different age groups work cohesively to maximize productivity –

Look for common grounds and encourage communication

It is important to encourage the diverse workforce to embrace what they have in common or share rather than focus on what may divide them. Even something like a common passion for food or hobbies could help break the ice. Talk about the elephant in the room!

Do not label on the basis of age

Stigmas associated with age start with labeling. When managing a cohesive workforce, avoid labeling groups or people on the basis of age. Treating everyone at the same level is always a good start.

Mentoring and reverse mentoring

It’s quite obvious that a senior colleague or peer would mentor a new 20s something intern. But as mentioned earlier, mentoring is a two-way street. A new intern could help an older group member get familiar with technology.

Put together unique skills

A good team is all about putting together people with unique skills and combining the best in them to enhance productivity. Broaden their horizons by emphasizing on skill set and capabilities instead of age-based diversity.

Ensure perks for all

A work-life balance is something that everyone strives for — not just Millennial or Generation Z — even Baby Boomers. A study revealed that 94% of baby boomers valued work flexibility. Combining simple perks will not only help resolve conflicts but retain a lucrative workforce.

In the past few years, MNC’s and startups have revealed that successful multi-generational teams can provide far more productive results. The idea is to identify, value and build on skills and experiences. By putting aside generation gaps and creating a cohesive and happy work environment any contemporary workplace can thrive.

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