By: Helios on June 8th, 2016

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The Multi-Generational Workforce: A Top Problem for CEO's

Communication | Diversity & Inclusion | Business Management & Strategy | Best Practices | Employee Relations

One of the hottest topics right now I'm seeing with many of my clients is how to manage multi-generations in the workplace. It is the first time the workplace has seen so many generational "forces" all at once. Today's workforce includes Pre-Boomers (Born 1925-1945), also known as The Silent Generation and Traditionalists, Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964), Generation X (Born 1965-1976), Generation Y, also known as Millennials (Born 1977-1994), and Generation Z (Born 1995 and later).

As you know, these employees were brought up in a different time, and therefore each has their own diverse perspectives. These differences show up in how each generation views work, their working style, and how they are perceived/how they view others. Each group is unique with different needs, management styles, communication preferences, and approaches to business success. Understanding what motivates each generation, creating a respectful environment, and creating a unified workforce is key.

New Workforce Trends that Increase Engagement Across Generations

What are some ways in which we can help increase engagement between employee generations?

1. Create Mentoring and Reverse Mentoring Opportunities:

Mentoring can (and should) should go both ways. While mentoring programs are widely known and used as a form of development, reverse mentoring is trending as companies try to create less divides between their generations. Reverse mentoring has grown quickly for collaboration between age groups and it is a fantastic way of growing each age bracket’s knowledge with the other’s expertise.  A Generation Y or Z employee  — who grew up with the internet at their fingertips can teach an older colleague the power of social media to drive business results and increase visibility. Meanwhile, the more experienced employee shares their institutional knowledge with the younger worker.

2. Create Management Training Geared Towards How Millennials Learn and Work:

Many companies are lacking specific management programs to teach new managers, specifically Millennials, not only the fundamentals of leadership but how to manage a multi-generational diverse workforce. By including training on each generational style and characteristics, it will alleviate stress and enhance communications for improved understanding of each group.

In recent years, we have seen Millennials managing older employees, which can be challenging and cause disengagement of both parties if not done effectively. One way to counteract this is to include training on each generational style and characteristics; and what drives motivation for each age group. Include specific tools and training Generation Y employees are drawn to, such as interactive role-playing, and shift from one trainer having the floor, to open dialogue where collaboration and questions can be discussed between groups and the instructor. When Generation Y employees understand what is important and motivating to the other generations, they will have the tools to manage more effectively and increase collaboration and engagement between all parties.

3. Look for Opportunities to Utilize Strengths:

Identifying strengths in each generation and using them to the best advantage is key. While we don’t want to overgeneralize, each group is known for a set of tools and practices each brings to the workplace. If a team had a workforce of people who could communicate with the elegance of a Baby Boomer, the thoughtfulness of a Gen-Xer, the speed of a Millennial, or the heart of Gen Z, that would be ideal. How we unify these groups is pertinent. Within this theory, it is also helpful to also create multi-generational teams within the organization. This will further aid each generation’s understanding of each other and how to utilize those ideas to work more effectively and successful together.

According to the SHRM Generational Differences and Survey Report,“ the most common outcome (of a multi-generational workforce) is workers from different generations working effectively together, which a majority of respondents (51%) observe frequently. Thirty-one percent said that they frequently see workers from different generations learning from one another, and 27% indicated that they frequently see a better quality of work due to a variety of generational perspectives.”

Download our FREE Whitepaper on Managing a Multigenerational Workplace and Developing Talent

As you can see there are many benefits for an organization to build an efficient and effective, united multi-generational workforce. For many organizations, this is a new focus and will be critical in the future, when organizations will need both teams of leaders and leaders who can drive and motivate the different groups. By getting started on building the multi-generational partnerships now by incorporating the above initiatives into your company, you will be ahead of the curve!