There are currently five generations in the workplace, making our workforce the most age-diverse in history. While some employers worry about dealing with millennials in the workplace (those born between 1981 and 1996), it’s important to understand the strengths and values of all generations to ensure they all work together effectively. If you are currently managing a multigenerational workforce, here are three steps to create mutual understanding and communication among employees.
Know that All Workers Generally Want the Same Things
It can be tempting to lure Millennial workers with promises of unlimited work from home days or “fun” open office plans, but these promises can alienate older workers. What’s more, trendy perks are usually unnecessary. Anywhere from 35-40% of all workers across generations say that healthcare is one of the most important benefits to them. Another 23% of workers of all ages also value making a positive impact on their workplace. And, of course, all workers hope to be well-compensated for the work that they do. Offering quality insurance, well-paying positions, and opportunities for growth are great ways to attract workers of all ages.
Have Activities that Promote Inclusiveness
Hiring a workplace culture speaker is a fantastic way to motivate your multigenerational workforce to learn from each other. With that said, there are other generational diversity in the workplace activities that you can implement to foster collaboration between colleagues. Some activities could include clustering workers by birth year and having them each brainstorm ways to solve a workplace issue, followed by a staff-wide discussion about how generation may have affected their answers. Another activity can include having staff in small groups share a) what they believe other generations bring to the workplace, b) the things they like about their own generation, and c) what they dislike about their own generation. Remember, conversations should be positive and respectful. Any harassment (particularly against workers over the age of 45) should not be tolerated.
With all of this said, some employers can become too caught up in managing generational differences in the workplace. While many older adults tend to respect authority and prize staying with one company from cradle to grave, this is not true of all workers. Likewise, not all millennial workers are necessarily tech-savvy or expect to unearned raises within weeks of starting work. It’s important to be aware of potential multigenerational workplace challenges, but generational models are just guides. Your employees should be evaluated based on their performance and ability to work with others, not on the experience, knowledge, or values one “expects” them to have.
Taking the time to bring in a Leading the Generations speaker and having generational diversity in the workplace activities are all valuable. Ultimately, however, your role as a manager is to evaluate employees individually based on the jobs they’ve been hired to perform. For all generational diversity in the workplace activities you should have several individualized check ins to ensure workers are prepared for success.