Today, our workforce is more complex than ever, spanning multiple generations and demographics.
The world’s current workforce includes a mix of “Baby Boomers” (currently ages 57-75), “Gen X” (currently ages 41-56), “Millennials” (currently ages 25 – 40), and “Gen Z” (currently ages 9 – 24). It’s likely employers will be leading teams of people composed of up to four or more generations at once. Thus, it’s important that employers know how to manage a multigenerational workforce.
Surprisingly, according to Deloitte’s The Postgenerational Workforce, “Seventy percent of organizations say leading multigenerational workforces is important or very important for their success over the next 12 -18 months, but only 10 percent say they are very ready to address this trend.” In this Astronology® we’ll answer three questions:
- What are some anticipated generational differences?
- What are some benefits and challenges that come with a multigenerational workforce?
- What are some tips for managing a multigenerational workforce?
What Are Some Anticipated Generational Differences?
Even though every individual is different, it makes sense that collectively, different generations will have different values, priorities, and work habits. Knowing what values closely align with each generation will allow you to understand what is needed to keep everyone motivated and engaged simultaneously. A few of those characteristics can include
- Baby Boomers: Loyalty, self-motivation, high work ethic, and the “live to work” mentality. Their average tenure is 15 years with an employer.
- Generation X: The ability to learn new technologies, highly educated, leadership potential, self-reliant, and focused on work–life balance. Their average tenure is five years at an organization.
- Millennials: Idealistic, flexible, tech savvy, able to integrate work and life, and a focus on career growth. Their average organizational tenure is two years.
- Generation Z: Multicultural view, tech native, entrepreneurial attitude, independent, and focus on learning with purpose. Since this is the emerging generation in the workforce, their average tenure is to be determined.
What Are Some Benefits And Challenges That Come With A Multigenerational Workforce?
A range of ages can add value to your organization. The diversity in perspectives will enhance problem solving capabilities. Younger employees can help your organization adapt to new technologies quicker, while more experienced employees can best utilize their knowledge in decision–making. Additionally, the variety of generations leaves opportunity for learning / mentoring across teams and co-workers. Knowledge transfer and retention also are amplified when the workforce is diverse.
With advantages also comes disadvantages. In recent years, there has been much discussion on generational clashes. When workers lean on negative generalizations of each other, toxic cultures can develop, resulting in disparate treatment, ageism (from both sides of the spectrum), and of course legal challenges. Another challenge is managing employee expectations. Because employee values can be different, differing expectations can lead to conflicting viewpoints. These varying approaches spill into the way an employee accomplishes their responsibilities, how they train / learn, and how they expect their performance to be evaluated. Even desirable compensation or benefits may not be viewed the same between generations. Additionally, differences in communication styles and interpretation of tones between generations can lead to employee disharmony.
What Are Some Tips For Managing a Multigenerational Workforce?
The multigenerational workforce is not going away. The sooner leadership can learn to manage this unique environment, the sooner they can reap the benefits and handle possible shortcomings. Some tips include the following:
- Determine employees’ preferred management styles and approach each team member accordingly.
- Use coaching to help employees to grow. Preferably, personalized coaching for each employee can enhance improvement.
- Set goals with each employee and use your knowledge of each generation to help determine the most appropriate goals.
- Be open to feedback. Respond with action by making reasonable adjustments in accordance with the feedback given.
Managing a multigenerational workforce can result in a lot of advantages if handled correctly. How diverse is your organization, generation-wise? What new programs or attempts have been made to create a cohesive and productive environment with a diverse workforce? Share your tips below in our comment box!