The workplace dynamic is changing rapidly. Today’s workforce is comprised of multiple generations with different values systems, work habits, and perspectives on the world. One of the most common and interesting workplace generation gaps comes from Gen Z and the Millennial Generation. A recent study commissioned by Elance-oDesk & Millennial Branding found that Millennials are much more likely to be narcissistic while Gen X trends towards a more team-oriented mindset.
Clearly, these two groups have very different approaches to life and work. As you can imagine, generational gaps in the workplace can create a challenging dynamic for business leaders and HR professionals. Luckily there are a few proven tactics for managing this complex issue. Here are a few ways your company can foster an environment that works for both generations:
Require Management Training
Managers are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to successfully navigating a generational gap. In fact, a recent poll found that over 75 percent of employees don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. This data demonstrates the importance of effective management. Mangers in your company need to be trained on the generational divide and should be required to learn about the work styles, habits, and values of each generation. Mangers who are equipped with this knowledge and the skills for embracing these differences will be highly effective.
Another way to bridge the generational gap and offer a more collaborative environment is to foster a culture that embraces diversity and the advantages it brings to each group. A team with a more diverse perspective will be able to make better decisions, predict futures problems, and craft creative solutions. Therefore, leaders should focus on the benefits of the generational gap and should publicly highlight the strengths of each team member. Your employees will soon learn that each team members is valued and this will eliminate some of the generational bias.
Provide Team Building Activities
Team building is a great way to branch out and erase the generational gap. Team building initiatives will get your group together and engaged around a common interest. Highlighting these commonalities will make it easier for your group to connect and relate. Your team will forget about the generational divide and will have fun bonding over a shared activity. There are a ton of resources regarding team building activities, but popular options include ropes courses, escape rooms,
Nip the Toxic Personalities
We’ve all heard the saying that one bad apple can ruin the whole bunch. As a leader, you can’t afford the negative impact of a toxic personality. There are a variety of ways to pick up on a toxic employee. These employees tend to be negative, tell lies, and are most likely to be around when drama erupts. If you want to effectively manage generational gaps, you’ll want to nip any behaviors that don’t support an accepting workplace atmosphere. This may include a tough conversation, or eventual termination if negative and discriminating behavior persists. While this can be a tough and uncomfortable move, it is critical for a collaborative space.
Sponsor Mentor Programs
Mentorship programs are another great step towards eliminating the barriers that exist with multi-generational workplaces. Your company might consider sponsoring a mentorship program where employees from two different generations shadow each other periodically throughout the year. This process will allow employees to learn from one another and may create a new level of respect and appreciation for any differences. Each generation offers a unique perspective and this exercise is a great way to highlight each vantage point.
Recognize Communication Preferences
Each generation has a preferred communication style and may have different levels of comfort with technology. Younger generations may prefer less interpersonal styles and may lean towards more digital platforms for communication while older generations may crave face-to-face interactions. It’s extremely important that you recognize and honor these preferences and works towards finding a solution that works for everyone. Your staff will appreciate the effort to creating processes that meet their needs and styles.
Overall, generational gaps in the workplace are common and are a major challenge facing most organizations today. However, instead of dreading this challenge companies should begin to embrace the many opportunities that come with this newfound diversity.
Thea Millard is a Career Counselor with a great passion for Digital Marketing, Branding and Business Development. She is fascinated by the way millennials act at the workplace and how they (the productive ones, of course) manage to be that productive.
She is also a Content Editor for Job Application Review, a site which guides you through the online phase of the employment process and not only