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Aligning Multiple Generations in the Workplace

July 24, 2018

The multigenerational workforce poses unique challenges for businesses of all shapes and sizes—what initiatives can companies take to make this work and maintain a positive culture?

The modern workplace can now have as many as five different generations working under the same roof—how can your company maintain success while engaging each employee? While each generation has been impacted by different circumstances, there are strategies to maintain a friendly and productive workplace that works for all employees.

Overview of the generations

As a refresher…

  • Traditionalists (those born between 1928-1945) - While this number is dwindling in 2018, this generation is still an important percentage of the modern workforce—most of the Traditionalist Generation who are still working in corporate environments are in executive and advisory roles.
  • Baby Boomer (1946-1964) - Once the backbone of the workforce, baby boomers are starting to dwindle in numbers as well. While some Boomers have already retired, many are still working.
  • Gen X (1965-1980) - This group makes up the majority of the current and rising leaders in today’s workforce. Work/life balance is very important to this generation.
  • Millennial (1981-1997) - This is the largest portion of today’s workforce. Technological disruption is a huge part of the millennial mindset, which has influenced the modern workforce in more ways than one.
  • Gen Z (1998-present) - Gen Z individuals are just now beginning to enter the workforce. Gen Z is the first age group to have internet technology readily available at a young age.

How can you align these generations in your company?

The first step is creating an “engagement strategy”. An important thing to remember when creating this is that you’re working with people—not robots defined by the stereotypes that surround each generation. Here are a few good places to start:

  1. Communicate your company’s goal - Your business must be a cohesive unit to be successful. Everyone from associates to executives needs to be working towards the same goals to succeed. Be sure to communicate this to everyone in the company.
  2. Be flexible- Preferences differ across the generations, be mindful of that! Executive leadership has to ensure that they accommodate different work styles. For example, Baby Boomers might feel more comfortable in their own office while millennials could be happy with open work stations. Have high expectations for everyone - Might sound obvious, but it’s important to expect competence from everyone at your company. When you have high expectations for everyone, it instills a sense of accountability.
  3. Embrace differences - Capitalize on the skills each generation can bring to the table. Many companies establish mentorships and pair senior employees with junior employees. More often than not, both parties learn something from this relationship. After all, no matter how old you are, you’re always learning.
  4. Recognize accomplishments - Cultivate a diverse environment that celebrates employees. Recognition is a powerful motivator! Don’t only focus on the top performers, but everyone who brings something valuable to the table.
  5. Engage the entire workforce in social events - Select activities that will be appealing to all generations such as trivia (the HQ app, for example) which allows younger and more seasoned staff to participate and enjoy.

Some organizations run into the issue where they cater too much to one segment of the workforce, whether it’s boomers, Gen Xers, millennials, etc. You’ll be ill-equipped to engage emerging generations if you build programs that invest too much in today’s generations. The most important thing to remember is that you’re dealing with humans, not categories. Companies that encourage team unity and shared goals will find results that benefit all people.

Questions on bringing the generations together? Reach out to KLR Executive Search Group, LLC.

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