Today’s workforce is composed of four generations and each generation has its unique characteristics. Each of them, namely Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z, brings exclusive strengths to work but their different working styles and philosophies can often lead to conflicts. As much as this multigenerational workforce is adding value to work, there is also a growing challenge for human resources managers in terms of managing the coordination and collaboration among different generations. Millennials or Gen Y is increasingly assuming management and leadership roles which further fuels workplace disruptions. Each generation has been shaped by different societal and economic conditions and has different life experiences. A smart manager views this as a unique opportunity to enhance productivity. Managing widely different viewpoints and focusing on the bottom line isn’t an easy task and may lead to workplace tensions and friction among employees. Here are a few tips and strategies that can help managers manage the multigenerational workforce efficiently:
Provide Appropriate Career Growth
The concept of career development is very different for Gen Y and Z as compared to the Baby Boomers or Gen X. The former is more concerned about professional training and development opportunities and they look for the same while applying for a job, accepting an offer or staying with a company. On the other hand Gen X and Baby Boomers value tenure and company loyalty. They have a traditional view about career growth which depends on promotions and pay hikes. Managers need to optimize employee engagement and satisfaction through cross trainings for various positions and should encourage development of transferable skills. This helps in improving employee engagement.
Offer Suitable Employee Benefits
Workplace policies must be suitable for the entire workforce. Various employee programs and benefits like health benefits, work schedule flexibility, retirement plans, parental leave etc. should be so implemented that every generation can be benefitted. Closely monitor how the employees access the benefits. One group of employee could be comfortable with technology while for another group it may be cumbersome. Provide adequate user training and multiple options to seek help so that all the employees can make the right choices while using their benefits.
While developing and implementing performance management programs, the managers need to consider the preferences of all the generations. Every generation loves to be appreciated irrespective of age but the way they prefer to receive feedback or appreciation could be different. Gen X, Y and Z usually prefer immediate and frequent feedbacks while Baby Boomers expect a formal constructive feedback which implies that their dedication and work ethics have been noticed and appreciated.
Encourage Cross-Generational Mentoring
Encourage informal mentorship among employees of different generations. Both younger and older employees can mentor and enrich one another in great many ways. Gen Z and Y are highly adept about technology and can share knowledge on general internet usage or Smartphone related queries. On the other hand Gen X and Baby Boomers have a sea of experiences and insights in career and many more important subjects.
Highlight Common Grounds
Being a manager you need to stop discussing generational differences and ideate ways to encourage collaboration among employees. Make age gap an insignificant issue for your team and help eliminate stigmas associated with them. Divert the focus of your team to more important issues like how to better the coordination. Highlight the common grounds that the employees share instead of those that divide them. In addition to promoting collaboration, this also helps in building trust among employees. There are many common grounds even between the Baby Boomers and Gen Z which should be explored and highlighted.
Understanding the demographics of your workforce and generational characteristics is of course important but management should also keep in mind that every employee is different and unique in his or her own way. While managing different generational groups, the management shouldn’t forget about the individual strengths. Multiple generations can bring a unique competitive advantage to your business if the management can tap into the potential and strengths of each generation as well as individual in the right way.