The Generation Gap at the Workplace
The way times are constantly changing, there’s a new generation coming into work every few years. And each of these generations brings with them their own ideas of how a workplace should be, the ideal way of working and general sentiment towards work. Currently, Gen X and Millennials are amongst the two biggest generations working, with Gen Z entering the fray as well. With three distinct generations coming together to work cohesively, there’s bound to be some friction.
For instance, there might be an ideological difference in how employees from Gen X and Gen Z communicate, with the former being more traditional while the latter preferring to text rather than send emails or call. This is but a basic example of how generational differences show up in a workplace and the issue warrants a deeper dive. Let’s look at Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z at the workplace and how they can be brought together seamlessly.
Age of Age Diversity
The days of discriminating against employees based on their age are past us. Everyone from a 60-year-old to a 21-year-old is supposed to feel comfortable working in a modern-day office and that’s only possible when the workplace is successfully able to overcome generational differences. Since age doesn’t determine the value an employee brings to the table, it’s imperative for a present-day workplace to nurture an environment where everyone feels comfortable contributing, irrespective of their age.
The easiest way to bridge the gap between Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z employees is by helping them discover a common ground where their overall objectives align with the companies while retaining their individual sense of work. If there’s one thing every employee cares about, no matter their age, it’s job satisfaction. As an employer, it’s then your job to make sure everyone who works with you feels like they are contributing equally and that they matter.
What’s also great is that while generational differences exist between employees, they aren’t too major. As things stand, it’s more about how employees perceive each other than what’s the actual truth. Take for example the stigma that Gen X and Baby Boomers are averse to learning a new task. This perception clouds the mind of trainers and interferes with the training they impart. Or the notion that Gen Z doesn’t bring tangible value to a company.
The Art of Handling Generational Differences
As someone who has to handle employees from different generations, you need to take care of a few things:
- Make all your employees feel valuable, irrespective of their age
- Don’t presume anything about your employees based on their age. A Gen Z employee can tell you as much about traditional marketing as a Gen X can about social media marketing.
- Openly discuss any stereotypes that you feel could potentially disrupt the workspace so that your employees can work to the best of their capabilities without preconceived notions leaving an impact.
- Organize perspective-taking sessions. These include everything from role reversal exercises to role-taking practices and will help your employees connect better with one another.
- Achieve cooperation by highlighting the advantages of having employees from different age groups through story-sharing sessions or skill-based training from one generational group to another.
Better Together, Always
A workplace looking for seamless generational co-existence should showcase how the employees are better together by allowing them to share their ideas and learnings with the rest of the team.
For instance, Gen X employees can mentor Millennials and Gen Z on the culture of quality, work ethic, systems thinking and business relationships. Millennials, on the hand, can share their technological prowess with the rest of the team, along with their penchant for risk-taking and being generally more collaborative.
Essentially, you need to understand what makes employees from these generations different and actively help them resolve these differences by creating an environment of sharing, learning and mentorship.
Take for instance JungleWorks, a marketplace, management and technology consultant, where the norm is constantly challenged and innovative thinking is encouraged. The company also enables learning, irrespective of age and fosters an environment of collaborative effort and success.
At the end of the day, it’s your business that’ll benefit from successfully mitigating any generational differences that crop up and turning them into lessons of learning and acceptance.