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Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce

Another graduating class will soon enter the workforce, contributing to the creation of what is likely to be the most disparate workforce in US history. As five generations [Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z] intermix in an increasingly complex work environment, it is vital that people leaders understand their team members’ different needs and expectations.

While managing a diverse team can include some periods of adjustment, the benefits that one could derive from just the breadth of experiences and perspectives a generationally diverse team could provide largely outweigh any initial challenges. Below are some best practices to help organizations bridge any generational gaps:

Understand your team: It is often said that Baby Boomers are self-assured, that Generation X is more direct, that Millennials crave recognition, but these are stereotypes. It is important for organizations to establish respect by recognizing everyone as individuals and understanding their motivations, their personal life experiences, and how that contributes to their working style, strengths, and weaknesses.

Encourage collaboration: Mentorship programs are a great way to facilitate formal knowledge sharing. In addition, setting up opportunities for individuals to connect, for both work and social reasons, can help to cross-pollinate new ideas and help to shift the idea that different generations correspond with a type of hierarchal system.

Set clear expectations: Having a leadership team who proactively discusses company goals and how each team member contributes to the collective success can be a tool in recognizing and appreciating staff and what they bring. Reiterating these goals to yourself and the team helps create a sense of camaraderie in striving for success, regardless of the method.

Embrace flexibility: With a diverse team, each member is likely to be at a different point in their life. Offering flexible work hours (and locations) can be an easy and inexpensive way to demonstrate your support for staff whatever personal stage in life they are in and, therefore, help to retain talent and preserve knowledge.

Invest in Learning and Development: With any new initiative, such as the rollout of a new system, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to adoption. Budget the time for differences in how long it takes to pick up new technology or getting up to speed on a project. This is an opportunity for leaders to demonstrate compassion in understanding different ways and paces at which one learns.

Wherever somebody is at in their career, a common thread amongst all employees is the value of feeling respected and being inspired. By building a foundation of communication, collaboration, and trust, employers can create an optimal ecosystem in which all those who participate can thrive.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your HR advisor for more information.


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