Managing generations in the workplace

A diverse group of employees stand around a table and discuss managing generations in the workplace

Managing Generations in the Workplace.

The average workplace has never been more diverse than it is now, and for good reason. The best employers can build teams with a mix of genders, race and backgrounds… and a diverse workplace often helps increase an employer’s bottom line. But one facet of diversity is often overlooked: a staff’s age-range.

Age is an important factor in the workplace; in today’s employment landscape there can be as many as five generations working for a single company! That’s why being able to manage different generations in the workplace is as important as ever… so we rallied our employment services consultants and gathered some tips to help you bridge the generational gap and handle employees from Gen Z, all the way to the Silent Generation

1. Leave any stereotypes at the door

This one should be a no-brainer, but while stereotypes surrounding race and gender are increasingly thrust into the spotlight, age-centric cliches are still alive in the workforce. Gen Z are tagged as ‘lazy’, ‘entitled’ and ‘unreliable’, whereas Baby Boomers are ‘frail’, ‘prone to taking sick days’ and are ‘clueless when it comes to technology’.

In reality a person’s age doesn’t define their work ethic, or how confident they are in an increasingly digital market. Our consultants have seen young job-hunters who don’t own a mobile, while some senior staff are digital superstars. If you’re going to get the best out of your employees, you’ve got to do away with any preconceptions you may have about their ability and prepare to be surprised by their range of skills.

2. Communication is key

Every employee should be treated with respect, but our experts believe that how you speak to staff from different generations can make it seem like you’re bilingual.

It won’t be the case for all Millennials and Baby Boomers, but younger generations are often better versed in technology, and in some cases prefer to communicate via texts and emails. Passing information to these employees online is effective, and painless.

For a lot of Gen Z and Baby Boomers, picking up the phone is just as fruitful. Older employees also generally respond well when they feel like they’re being respected; think more ‘sir/madam’ and less ‘mate’. Changing up the way you communicate with employees of different generations can make life much easier in the long run, which brings us to our next point….

Download our Communication Styles infographic here.

3. Embrace different working styles

In the same way that different generations communicate differently, you may find that in order to get the best out of your employees, flexibility is a must. If you have a digital whiz-kid who lives online, leave the manual labour for someone else. On the flipside, if an older employee prefers paper-and-pen to keep track of tasks, who are they hurting.

In one case, an employer found that printing out a shift schedule, and hanging up a white board for older employees to keep track of daily tasks saw their productivity skyrocket. It was a small adjustment, but an effective one.

Finding and supporting each employee’s preferred style of work will lead to improved performance, outputs, and efficiency. A range of workstyles within a single environment may sound chaotic but can produce a creative melting-pot that propels your business to new heights.

4. Help them, help each other, to help you

And that clash of styles has more advantages than you think. One sneaky way of bridging the generational gap is to let your staff do it for you! Each employee is bringing knowledge, experience and talents to the table… and there’s an opportunity for staff to up-skill each other.

Our consultants recall examples of younger employees helping their elders with digital tasks or guiding them through online programs. Meanwhile, some employers have sought out older heads they believed could help improve a younger staff’s work ethic by leading by example.

It’s not for everyone but being taught a new skill by co-workers can lead to a more casual learning environment and feel less like ‘work’. The higher the skill-base for each of your staff… the higher the business’ bottom line.

If you’d like more tips and information on building a business, we’ve got more resources here. If you would like any assistance finding the right employee for your business, a My Pathway recruiter can help. Contact us today.


Phone: 1800 410 610

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