Calling the 21st century an ‘era of transition’ will not be wrong. Right from technology to the workforce, there has been a drastic transition. For the first time in history, we see up to five generations working alongside each other, creating an Intergenerational workforce. Here is all you need to know about managing a multigenerational workforce.
According to the Deloitte 2021 Global Human Capital Trends study, 70 percent of organizations say leading the multigenerational workforce is critical for their success. Still, only 10 percent are ready to address this trend.
In the aftermath of the Covid-19, ensuring employees' well-being has become a key priority for MNCs to startups. However, with the arrival of Gen Z and the older generations working beyond retirement age, companies and HR managers are finding it challenging to create a productive culture while balancing different perceptions.
In addition, companies have understood that generational diversity will be significant in the future workplace, and hierarchy must be eradicated to sustain itself in the long run. With this reckoning, it's time to understand the desires, mindsets, and motivators of the intergenerational workforce to enable better administration.
Helping you tap into this segment, Rachele Focardi - Bestselling Author and Founder at XYZ@Work shares her insight on intergenerational collaboration. While at it, she also uncovers numerous unknown facts and practices to make the best of both worlds.
Download our playbook "Catch the new wave: Performance enablement" and master the art of managing millennials and an intergenerational workforce in today's digital age.
What is the Intergenerational Workforce?
The collide of employees in a workplace belonging from different generations, with different mindsets, ideologies, and approaches make an intergenerational workforce. While this term was not prevalent in the past, it will undoubtedly be the most often used word in the future workplace.
An intergenerational workforce consists of the baby boomers born between 1946-1964, generation X born between 1965-1980, generation Y born between 1981-2000, and generation Z born after 2001. This phenomenon has occurred for the first time in history, so it’s best to leverage the skillset of multiple generations and prepare to excel.
Roadblocks in establishing an intergenerational collaboration: What are they?
According to the 2021 Multigenerational Workforce Study, two-thirds of employees find it hard to work with other age groups, and 40% prefer to work with or be managed by colleagues from the same generation.
Despite best attempts to express a peaceful and collaborative working culture, many businesses face the X-Y-Z Divide Syndrome, where an intergenerational workforce is perceived as a negative factor, making it more challenging to construct and maintain a happy, productive workplace.
Intergenerational conflicts will persist if organizations fail to encourage and facilitate cross-generational awareness and understanding. The younger generations will see the work styles of older employees as hierarchical, stubborn, and resistant to change; while undervaluing their experience, expertise, and wisdom.
Similarly, the older generations will continue to see the young workers as overly sensitive, entitled, and overconfident; while failing to appreciate them for their social-mindedness, digital savviness, and creativity.
If not addressed and settled for good, these stereotypes can result in employee dissatisfaction, unhealthy rivalry, a lack of mutual respect, low employee engagement, poor performance, slow-moving projects, and stagnant innovation.
55% of employees across different age groups say that intergenerational conflicts are frequent or very frequent.
Best ways to improve intergenerational collaboration: What to do?
Sadly, generational differences are often overlooked, buried under the sand, or ignored. Only a few companies have strategies, initiatives, and programs to bridge the generational gap and foster a culture of intergenerational collaboration.
Here are some suggestions to help you achieve productivity while maintaining a balance with generational diversity.
1. Do away with the Stereotypes
Baby Boomers and Gen X often disapprove of younger workers' sense of entitlement and lack of commitment, so they fail to provide the mentorship and guidance they crave. As a result, Millennials and Gen Z feel ignored and unable to participate, for which they blame the older generation's management approaches and "old-school" views.
Adapting and managing a multigenerational workforce is a two-way street that necessitates efforts on both sides. Establish a plan that meets current market expectations and assists your employees in altering their mindset and approach that eliminate stereotypes, which are the biggest roadblock in establishing harmony between the intergenerational workforce.
2. Understand and accept the difference in ideologies
Young employees disapprove of their managers, and the baby boomers generation envy the young ones because they don’t realize how strongly the behaviors or the mindsets they disapprove of are rooted in the historical, political, and social context that brought up each generation.
With multiple generations in the workforce, differences in opinions, ideologies, and mindsets are likely. Companies can’t eradicate this, but the first steps towards achieving intergenerational collaboration can be taken with acceptance.
3. Include educational guidance
The unfortunate truth is that both generations, old and young, have much more similarities than differences. However, the inclination toward information that validates a preconceived notion - combined with a lack of knowledge has created chaos. Overcoming the mindset gap is not an overnight task, but you get one step closer with the proper training.
Soft skills training may help increase communication and awareness of the advantages of healthy interactions. False preconceptions can also be dismantled with education and training in the workplace.
4. Encourage collaboration and constant development for all ages
With the ongoing tension between the multiple generations in the workplace, it’s necessary to encourage healthy cooperation across departments and employees from different age groups.
Organize events where employees can present their aspirations. This will enable each generation to recognize the diversity in work styles, assisting them all in gaining new information, experience, and wisdom. As a result, the intergenerational workforce benefits from teamwork.
Change the mindset to achieve intergenerational collaboration
90% of employees across generations say there is a lot they’d like to learn from other age groups, and 99% say they want to find a way to work together positively.
While offering new viewpoints and practical expertise, diversity is a valuable advantage. However, if not handled carefully, it can create an unstable workplace, resulting in miscommunication and contradicting expectations.
When organizations are willing to address Generational Diversity, call it out, explore it, understand it and get comfortable with it, they can genuinely help their employees become aware of the forces that shaped each generation.
- Implement programs and initiatives with knowledge sessions, training, coaching, seminars, shared workspaces, and team-bonding events to encourage cross-generational awareness.
- Utilize matrixed multigenerational teams or Shadow Boards to promote intergenerational collaboration.
- Encourage two-way learning exchange through reverse mentoring or, even better, two-way mentoring programs.
- Educate the intergenerational workforce to leverage the skills of each generation to fulfill various business needs.
- Companies can achieve effective teamwork and cooperation by having two-way conversations where everyone is learning and appreciates the value the other brings to the workplace.
- Create an informal or formal environment where team members with expertise in specific areas can conduct internal training.
Managing a multigenerational workforce becomes easy and beneficial with all these steps and strategies in the workplace.
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