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Maintaining Multi-Generational Harmony in the Workplace

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Talent Management

To foster an inclusive workplace culture, it is important to be aware that your employees can come from a wide variety of generations and backgrounds, bringing with them unique perspectives and experience. Today, more varied generations of people are working together than ever before. While this generational diversity brings with it some challenges, it also has great potential for employees to grow and learn from one another’s ideas and experiences. In turn, enabling the organization to thrive from their collective strengths.

Each generation values different ways of working and depending on which group you belong to – you can probably identify with some of these traits more than others. While there is certainly some variation amongst individuals, much of the characteristics that are most likely to be common amongst generations are a product of the career climate of the time in which they entered the work force. Some of those common traits include:

  • Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)- optimistic and ambitious, believes in the value of hard work, skeptical of authoritative figures, tend to be workaholics, prefer one-on-one or telephone communication.

  • Generation X (born 1965-1980)- prefer to work autonomously, values self-reliance, communicate comfortably one-on-one and by email/text messaging, tend to be risk-takers, desires work-life balance.

  • Millennials (born 1981-2000)- expects instantaneous communication, tend to be driven by clear goals and require lots of feedback, values diverse work experience over a singular career path, prefers communication through text message or social media, often dependent on technology.

Different generations can struggle to understand each other’s values and working styles, so as an employer it is important to respect these differences and encourage a culture of mutual respect and acceptance of those differences. Even from the general summary above, it is clear that each group prefers different communication methods. Hence, it is important to be mindful of variations and make an effort to connect with each group and person in such a way that they will listen and hear the messages you are sharing.

By working in an environment where everyone respects each other, communication between different generations improves and a mutually beneficial knowledge-sharing relationship is formed. This allows, for example, Baby Boomers to be able to share their knowledge gathered from all their experience with a younger generation of workers willing to listen, who then share their knowledge of the latest innovations to get the older generation up to speed. It takes some effort, but it is possible to build an environment of respect and knowledge sharing where everyone can grow and feel valued.

Rather than focusing on generational differences try to focus on individual strengths and respect for different perspectives. Cultivating a culture of respect for each other’s skills and experiences is what leads to success in a multi-generational workforce.

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Further Reading

Other articles you may be interested in:

Setting Up New Employees For Success

Employment Programs - Filling the Talent Pool

Company Culture Series: Respectful Relationships

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