A generation is a distinct group that may be identified by its members’ ages and any significant life events that occurred during formative years that spanned several years. For business managers and HR specialists, managing a multigenerational workforce with so many varied experiences and values is a particularly difficult organizational challenge. Up to four generations may be represented in some companies, bringing people with varied life experiences, values, and skill sets to work side by side. Companies need to be ready to handle conflicts that result from these disparities in order to maximize their potential benefits and minimize unfavorable effects.
Generational Diversity in the Workplace
Differences Between Generations
Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z are the current top four generations working today. “Baby boomers” were raised with the ideals of valuing their individuality and engaging in artistic expression. They are currently renowned for their excellent work ethic, commitment, service orientation, teamwork, and experience. Due to the fact that they were raised during a period of rising divorce rates, significant corporate layoffs, and technological advancements, the “Generation X” cohort is renowned for its values of self-reliance, entrepreneurial spirit, and work-life balance (Heyns and Kerr, 2018). Workers from the so-called “Millennial Generation” are described as having a global perspective and experience, recognizing multiculturalism and rapid contact as a way of life (Nabawanuka and Ekmekcioglu, 2021). Collective action, optimism, technological savvy, and the capacity to multitask describe them at work.
The lack of skilled workers, improvements in health and life expectancy, and failing retirement benefit plans are some of the factors causing a rise in generational diversity in today’s workplaces. According to Jones et al. (2018), the traits of each generational cohort have an impact on how people perceive and comprehend the organizational hierarchy, professional relationships, and work ethics. Conflicts in the workplace over overtime, the use of technology, punctuality, and clothing regulations can be exacerbated by generational diversity (Heyns and Kerr, 2018). Employees from Generation X and Millennials may be less likely than baby boomers to agree to overtime or schedule modifications to meet the needs of their work units (Brightenburg et al., 2018). When older workers are unable or unwilling to adopt new technologies in the workplace, conflicts over technology use can arise. This can irritate Generation X and Millennial employees who are well-versed in new technologies and their advantages (Nabawanuka and Ekmekcioglu, 2021). Younger workers who are used to dressing more informally and working flexible hours may disagree with baby boomers since they are more formal and stringent about dress codes and punctuality expectations.
Managing Generational Diversity
Work to increase workplace understanding of generational differences, attitudes, and beliefs through group conversations in order to prevent generational conflict. Employees should be instructed on the value of respect and tolerance as well as pertinent policies and reporting procedures (Shelley, 2018). Ensure that everyone is treated fairly at work by setting the same standards for their performance and treating them all with professionalism. It is possible for leaders to motivate various sorts of people effectively by personalizing their communication style.
You must be able to hire people from different generations if you want to take advantage of generational diversity. Be careful not to use age-discriminatory language in your job postings. Instead, develop your message to resonate with a variety of candidates. While Millennials would be more interested in possibilities for personal growth and social responsibility, Baby Boomers would respond favorably to mentions of your company’s achievements or other industry honors (Brightenburg et al., 2018). Make sure to advertise your openings using a variety of platforms, depending on how you can best connect with possible candidates. Consider using your professional network or referrals to reach Baby Boomers, as well as the always-connected Generation Z, with engaging internet campaigns (Shelley, 2018). Do not undervalue the influence of social media on hiring. Social media use is widespread across all generations, and in order to learn what they are looking for and expecting during interviews, encourage the candidates to ask lots of questions. You will then be in a position to decide whether a candidate and your business are a good fit.
Stereotypes are the worst because, whether they are accurate or not, they serve no one. Take advantage of your multigenerational workforce to the fullest extent by abstaining from age-based prejudices and stereotypes. Instead, have a conversation with each of your staff to better understand their unique preferences and working methods. One of the prevalent stereotypes is that elderly people are less at ease using technology.
Listen to each employee and learn what they want rather than assuming they all have the same needs based on their age. By doing this, you will be able to communicate better, collaborate more effectively, and boost staff morale. Every employee is an individual with their own preferences, objectives, abilities, weaknesses, and communication styles (Shelley, 2018). You should approach each employee individually rather than making generalizations and treating everyone the same. Improving working connections and creating a happy workplace are both possible when you personalize your communication and adapt your style to each individual.
Boomers choose phone calls, while Millennials favor texting and instant messaging as their preferred digital communication methods. Additionally, the two younger generations are more inclined to value working together. You should employ a variety of communication strategies to interact with each age because they all have different communication preferences. Discover each employee’s choice and then adjust to it. Additionally, generations might benefit from one another’s knowledge. For instance, gen Z employees expect quick, actionable feedback on their performance, whereas Gen X employees prefer to be left alone (Francis et al., 2018). Along with using various communication styles, you should hone your feedback-giving methods and use them in accordance with employee preferences. Using a tailored strategy will not only increase employee satisfaction but also make it simpler to provide useful, insightful feedback.
Resolving Intergenerational Conflicts at the Workplace
In order to resolve intergenerational conflict in the workplace, managers may implement several distinct steps. First, the employees should be acknowledged what intergenerational conflict is and how to approach it. For instance, the company may organize special seminars or training aimed to show what happens when instead of raising a conflict on the basis of generational differences, workers may use their skills in effective teamwork. Moreover, each problem that arises should be addressed, and managers should leverage the skills of different generations. For example, there might be a situation where the younger generation suggests using Google Teams, while the older generation does not get on well with the technologies. In that case, I would suggest that special workshops on the advantages and exploitation of the Google teams might be organized for the employees. Such flexible approaches will resolve intergenerational conflicts and help the team to see improvements.
Workplace generational diversity is expanding and the workforce is getting more and more diverse in terms of age, ranging from Baby Boomers with decades of experience to young members of Generation Z who are always connected. Nowadays, businesses frequently hire workers from up to four different generations, so it should come as no surprise that each age has its own demands, goals, styles, and features that employers should take into account. There are many advantages to hiring a staff that spans several generations, even while managing such an age-diverse workforce is undoubtedly not without its obstacles.
Brightenburg, M.E., Francioli, S., Fu, N., Graẞmann, C. and Tosti-Kharas, J., 2018. Millennials in the Workplace. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2018, No. 1, p. 14547). Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510: Academy of Management. Web.
Francis, T. and Hoefel, F., 2018. True Gen’: Generation Z and its implications for companies. McKinsey & Company, 12. Web.
Heyns, M.M. and Kerr, M.D., 2018. Generational differences in workplace motivation. SA Journal of Human Resource Management, 16(1), pp.1-10. Web.
Jones, J.S., Murray, S.R. and Tapp, S.R., 2018. Generational differences in the workplace. The Journal of Business Diversity, 18(2), pp.88-97. Web.
Nabawanuka, H. and Ekmekcioglu, E.B., 2021. Millennials in the workplace: perceived supervisor support, work–life balance and employee well–being. Industrial and Commercial Training.
Shelley André, R.N., 2018. Embracing generational diversity: Reducing and managing workplace conflict. ORNAC Journal, 36(4), p.13. Web.