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How to build a successful intergenerational workplace

As more and more people get jobs, from new graduates to 70-somethings, companies are finding it hard to maximize productivity from workers who come from different periods of time. In this article, find out how to build a successful inter-generational workplace.

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Workplace

When you have conventionalists, the Baby Boomers, and, of course, Generations X, Y and Z all hustling in one workplace, it won’t be surprising to see managers scrambling to maintain harmony from time to time. After all, these people have different mindsets and communication styles, and conflict is bound to happen.

Of course, the problem is not insurmountable, especially when the right techniques are applied. It is up to your Human Resources department to create a policy that fits your unique needs. But in general, these tips are always a good starting point:

Know and understand your demographics.

It’s a basic procedure for your HR team to know the demographics within your organisation. This should be easy to do with the help of data and analytics. The idea is to obtain insight, see the similarities and differences among your employees, and look for trends. Many HR leaders are now working with scientists who can bring to the forefront facts or aspects about their workforce that they couldn’t otherwise detect on their own.

If you conduct pulse surveys and seek employee feedback regularly, add questions about their communication styles or how they envision their careers moving within the company, this will give you a greater understanding of your workers and help you identify the right training direction for your managers, allowing them to see, acknowledge and adapt to generational differences. Before you expect changes in your team, there should be changes in your managers first.

Study the generations.

Before you can be successful with a multi-generational workforce, you first need to understand them based on their uniqueness. But don’t go into stereotyping a whole generation, and remember that there will always be exceptions. For example, some Boomers like to hang around younger coworkers when tinkering with the latest technology gadgets or apps. Your managers should know the hallmark attributes of each generation, but dealing with an employee should always be individualised.

Also, regardless of your employees’ differences, don’t make company policies or decisions based on age. For example, don’t single out the younger generations when implementing a new app while leaving the older ones out. You don’t want to create a divide within your team where conventionalists and Boomers feel discriminated against for their ability to learn modern technologies.

Instead, show them that the business does not work around labels and that everyone is always given equal treatment and recognition, regardless of their age. Furthermore, openly acknowledge your appreciation of your mixed-age workforce and point out the advantages it brings to the company.

Stress the importance of teamwork.

It’s undeniable that people from different generations have their own perceptions of how work should be done. For example, conventionalists and Boomers like to take instructions from the higher ups and manage those at the bottom. Generation X are more independent, they may prefer to work and make a difference on their own. Generations Y and Z are very ambitious, enjoy working in teams, and constantly seek feedback from one another and from their managers.

While each generation is clearly unique, it doesn’t mean they cannot work together. In fact, they have so much to learn from one another – just one of the great things about a multi-generational workforce. By changing mindsets at work and making everyone focus on their diversity as a tool for great outcomes, they will begin to see one another as allies. This encourages trust and confidence, and a desire to work together in search of wisdom through experience and collaboration.

Promote mentoring across generations.

One of the best things you can do to maximize a multi-generational workforce is to create some kind of mentoring program. For example, the younger workers can teach the older ones about the digital space and how it can be used to improve business results. For their part, the older ones can teach the younger ones about the good, old-fashioned ways of doing good business, like being an effective communicator and developing good interpersonal skills. It’s obvious how every generation can learn from each other, but you should make a conscious effort to create a system out of the process. Additionally, more experienced workers will have gained insider knowledge that they can teach the younger ones.

Listen to each generation’s individual needs.

Employees from different generations are at various phases of their lives and have different goals and plans for their careers. Your HR team should take the time to consider and accommodate them, but concentrate on making them perform each task, instead of how to achieve the main goal. Management’s role is to strike a balance between satisfying a worker’s need, creating better results, and making sure no one suffers in the process. Specialised HR cloud software from Advanced, can help with employee management, training and reporting. 

Moreover, managers should adjust company policies to meet every generation’s needs when and where possible. For younger workers, for example, digital methods will work best, as opposed to traditional methods for the conventionalists and the Boomers. As ever, the key is to understand each generation and what works best for them in pursuit of benefits for the company.

Stay flexible.

One of the best things about a successful workforce is flexibility. Millennials are known for being bold and free spirits, and they can sometimes create disorders in the workplace too. However, with the right millennials in your team, this disorder will be limited to minor issues like following dress codes or strict office hours.

Nowadays, it’s crucial to develop some level of corporate tolerance as long as the company’s goals are not compromised. Times have changed and people can still be fully functional and, in fact, brilliant members of a workforce even if they aren’t as rigid about technicalities. Of course, this doesn’t mean the older generations are no longer useful, they have years of experience after all. What’s important is to embrace diversity and let each part of the team work as they are wired, and let their performance speak for them.

Instead of opposing different ways that your workers do their job, go with the flow and provide the best environment they need to thrive the way they know how. Regardless of their seniority, trust your employees and let them make decisions on their own. Avoid encouraging them to earn your trust before they can enjoy perks, such as work-at-home privileges, and instead treat them equitably. Human resource managers need flexibility to meet the needs of a diverse workforce and there is HR cloud software that encourages this flexibility.

After all, what’s most important when it comes to building and maintaining a successful multi-generational workforce is giving them equal treatment. Whatever their age or tenure, everyone should have an audience in management. This is, in fact, the only way to keep such a workforce engaged. Very importantly, avoid creating divisions among different generations and instead combine them and create teams where each age group is well-represented.

According to research, a multi-generational workforce can actually work better, thanks to a whole range of views coming together and getting polished to perfection. It’s easy: when workers come from different nationalities and cultures, everyone can pitch in varied perspectives and approaches, which increases the chances of problems getting solved faster. Definitely, as far as management is concerned, this is positive.

And of course, it’s not all going to happen like magic. Before you can actually benefit from a diverse workforce, you need to work on it. You need to take active steps to make it thrive instead of leaving it to fend for itself. Picture the chaos! With the above tips, building a successful multi-generational workplace should be a positive experience for everyone.

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