Human resource executives and managers face a myriad of challenges when it comes to the management of multiple generations in the workplace. A typical large organization with several employees is likely to have at least five distinct generations working under the same team in different departments. Each generation has unique communication styles, expectations, preferences and perspectives hence it’s important to know how to handle and manage the diverse group of employees working for your company.
According to Rawn Shah, a contributor on Forbes, this is one of the most common strategy-based concerns employers face. Effectively managing multiple generation employees helps increase their productivity, which in turn, aids in reducing benefit costs. Employee assistance programs can also help manage this kind of workforce.
Effective Management of a Multi-Generation Workforce
Identify and Know Your Generations
First, identify and know the various generations working for your company. Generational dates do not directly impact the general attributes your employees reflect in their working experiences.
- Silent Traditionalists – 1925 - 1945
- Baby Boomers – 1946 - 1964
- Generation X – 1965 - 1982
- Millennials – 1983 - 1999
- Digital Natives – 2000 - later
The expectations of each employee generation are unique because they grew up in different environments and contexts. Baby Boomers usually have liberal fiscal tendencies while silent traditionalists are fiscally conservative. Although each generation has an exception, know the general experience framework of your employees to comprehend their reference point.
Over the last seven decades, technology has advanced exponentially, impacting how various generations communicate. The silent traditionalists prefer face to face communication because they like being in charge hence it is best to communicate with them through face-to-face interactions. Similarly, Generation X and Baby Boomer employees highly value personal interactions. However, they are more flexible than their earlier generation counterparts.
Baby Boomers put more focus on group interactions as they are extroverts. They prefer meeting in conference rooms to doing webinars or holding conference calls. Although they are willing to give other options a try, they lean on the side of in-person interactions. The ability to get down to work and engage in individual interactions is the focus of Generation X employees. They need extra psychological and physical space to get their work done.
Technology is the foundation of communication for digital natives and millennials. They want ease of doing things and efficiency. Set clear expectations of when you have to engage in face-to-face interactions and when to make use of technology once you know your workforce generations.
Create a Conducive Workplace Environment
Misunderstanding is a common challenge when it comes to managing a diverse group of employees because every generation is unique. Baby Boomers, Silent Traditionalists and Generation X employees are more differential to authority and like to be loyal to their employers.
However, Digital Natives and Millennials prefer work quality to taking orders. Company positions and years spent working for your firm is not of much essence to them. They judge you and the management at large based on work content. Similarly, they want to be judged based on their work outcomes, not working hours. Conflicts and misunderstandings can arise in your work culture if you cannot understand these generational differences.
Unite your multi-generation employees by engaging them in digital and physical team-building activities. When your employees are accommodating and understand each other irrespective of their differences, you will notice improved employee productivity and few to no misunderstandings.
Provide Incentives to Each Generation
Different generations prefer different rewards or incentives. Find out what rewards will suit the different generations in your workforce. For instance, you can offer pensions to the Silent Traditionalists, awards to Baby Boomers, gift cards to Generation X, career training and development to the Millennials, and a tech-based solution to the Digital Natives.
When you understand your employees with respect to their generations, they end-up feeling valued and motivated to work even harder.