There are many benefits to a multi-generational workforce. Pairing knowledgeable, seasoned veterans in a field alongside the fresh energy of a younger workforce can reap enormous benefits for companies. Innovation and new knowledge about technology brought by younger workers can help make workplaces more efficient. In contrast, workers who have been around a while can provide wisdom and guidance to the career development of the younger generation.
Besides the typical challenges that come with varying degrees of maturity and experience, problems can arise with differing expectations and communication styles. Being prepared for the issues in advance can help you be better prepared to face them when they come up.
Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2015) has grown up in the “always-on” era of smartphones, cable TV, and the Internet. As a result, they may place more focus on communication through email and text as opposed to face-to-face communication. Meanwhile, nearly 40% of Millenials (born between 1981 and 1995) admit to spending more time on their phones than in face-to-face interaction with others.
Those who haven’t grown up this way may be inclined to shake their heads and wonder what the world has come to, while younger generations might not see a problem with this type of communication. Practicing face to face conversations and the act of being present during an interaction, especially in the workplace, can go a long way towards making friends and making sure your message is coming across effectively. According to a study by Holmes Report, workplace misunderstandings cost companies $37 billion.
Tacit knowledge is gained through personal experience and difficult to communicate via the written word. This type of information is easiest shared in face-to-face communication, but generational preferences and comfort level might make this type of communication difficult. These barriers can be overcome by practicing small talk both inside and outside of work, making eye contact, and learning to be present in the moment.
Here is an area where Generation Z and Millenials may have the upper hand. Using technology to communicate in the workplace has become ever more important, especially in the era of Covid-19. Working from home has made technology mandatory as apps like Slack, Zoom, and myriad others are used to help employees collaborate outside of the office.
Communicating effectively through technology may pose difficulties for older workers who prefer telephone calls or face-to-face communication. Only 18% of Baby Boomers believe that technology makes their lives easier, while 74% of Millennials think the same.
Technology barriers can be overcome by mentoring between generations. Younger workers may have plenty to share about technology, but older workers have just as much information that others can benefit from as well.
Generation Z employees overwhelmingly state that they believe they should receive a promotion after a year of working, and 60% hope to work up to a management position. Meanwhile, 49% of Millennials plan to leave their employers within the next two years, citing a variety of complaints such as lack of opportunity for advancement, lack of learning opportunities, and dissatisfaction with pay.
It’s a bit trickier to set out expectations, but appreciating each employee for what they bring to the table may go a long way in keeping them satisfied in their position. Of employees who are happy in their jobs, 77% stated that their managers focus on their strengths.
Baby Boomers are known for being hard workers who are willing to mentor others. Generation X employees are committed to work-life balance and value efficiency, while Millennials are independent and concerned with workplace ethics. Generation Z, the newest workers on the scene, are knowledgeable about technology, and easily adapt to changes. Each generation brings their strengths to the workplace, and by learning from each other and focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses, you can successfully integrate all generations for a well-rounded workforce.