We now have four distinct generations of employees in the workplace, with millennials currently surpassing baby boomer numbers.
What challenges does this pose to HR departments? How can organizations build strong, collaborative teams when everyone sees the world differently? This article will discuss ways to manage multi-generational teams, making them both cohesive and productive.
The Workplace Is Made Up of Many Generations
Multi-generational employees now comprise the fabric of every organization. With employees ranging in age from 18 to over 65, there are several very distinct generations of workers in every industry. And while the oldest (baby boomers) are staying employed longer, those aged 25-35 (millennials) have recently surpassed the previous generation in numbers, based on Pew Research data.
No doubt, this creates some interesting challenges for human resources. Each generation varies in terms of communication preferences, interpersonal relationships and work values. So, how can an organization build a strong, united team made up of multiple generations of employees?
Understand What Is Important to Each Generation
Before diving right in, it’s crucial that leaders understand how teams consisting of multiple generations can be beneficial to business.
Starting with millennials, it’s important to note that they like opportunities to learn in jobs that stretch their capabilities. Therefore, a well-laid out career plan with plenty of learning opportunities is important to this demographic. Millennials also rely heavily on technology for all aspects of their work, but do enjoy social interaction, as well. According to the Deloitte 2017 Millennial Survey, this group also wants to make a difference in the world and embrace remote and flexible work schedules.
On the other end of the multi-generational employee spectrum are the baby boomers: workers who are in their late-50s to 70s, getting ready to retire and leave their legacies behind. They have strong work ethics because they are driven by “position, perks and prestige,” The Balance notes. This demographic also prefers face-to-face communication. Respect means a lot to them, but they can be overly competitive at times.
Other generations, such as Generation X and Z (while smaller in size) have their own experiences. However, they get along well with the generations that precede and follow them. These traits can be leveraged to create well-designed teams, as members of these groups make for natural leaders.
Build Strong Multi-Generational Teams
Managing multiple generations within teams doesn’t have to be complex. It just requires having a plan of action for communicating and collaborating in an environment that puts respect for individuals first. Building a set of core work values—that honor all generations—ensures that one set of employees isn’t favored over another. When this attitude comes from the top, it influences teams at their level too.
Once this is established, it is then up to every manager to develop a rapport with subordinates, so that they have positive interactions and support at all times. Managers can use the best methods based on multi-generational employees’ needs, such as sending emails alongside weekly in-person meetings, for example.
Using the positive side of multi-era ideas and teamwork, employees can become better at their jobs. As they learn to get along with each other, they also become problem-solvers and better understand how to get along with customers. If conflicts come up, as they will from time to time, maintaining a respectful, positive relationship will help to smooth things over—so that the team can continue being productive.