Generations Working Side-by-side
As the Baby Boomers start to approach retiring age, businesses have seen an influx of Generation X, millennials, and Generation Z members joining the workforce. With many senior employees working beyond the retirement age today, generation gaps have become more evident and prominent in the workplace. While the millennials and Generation X are now the largest working demographic, it is still not surprising to see them working alongside Baby Boomers and Generation Z.
The diversity brought about by different generations working side-by-side can potentially generate fresh and unique ideas. However, generational issues are also not unheard of, especially since you may notice a stark difference in the beliefs, values, outlooks, and lifestyles of the younger and older generations.
Given the differences in each generation’s working styles and ethics, there is a challenge in unifying your team and bridging the gap across generations. Otherwise, you will witness conflicts and lukewarm working relationships budding in the workplace.
Establish Two-Way Mentorship
It is important to note that each generation has something unique to offer, which means that your workers can learn a thing or two from one another. For example, Baby Boomers were born at a time of steady economic growth and have been in the workforce for longer, so they may have valuable experience to share. On the contrary, the succeeding generations grew up using the Internet, so they are more technologically native.
One way to manage generation gaps would be to develop a two-way mentorship program, where you encourage employees of different generations to teach each other. Reverse mentoring, which involves pairing younger mentors with older mentees, has also become a powerful strategy used to build relationships, empower mentors, and open up a mentee’s perspective.
The major challenge of handling generation gaps has to do with differences in opinions. As such, it is important to highlight and promote respect as a crucial trait among all employees. No matter what generation you come from, you will more likely be willing to listen to other people’s input if they respect your ideas and contributions.
To address generational conflicts properly, you first need to know the problems and their root causes. Getting constant feedback from your employees can help you understand what may be causing tension and frustrations in the workplace so that you can think of how to approach the issue. If you have already taken some steps to bridge the gap, you naturally also want to know whether your efforts are working, so encouraging feedback is essential.
Open Up Communication Channels
In today’s digital age, technology has made it possible to communicate with people through online and virtual means. The younger workers are well-acquainted with these methods as they have long been exposed to emails, social media channels, and other forms of online interactions. However, the older generations, particularly the Baby Boomers, may prefer face- to-face interaction or phone calls as they grew up without relying on technologies.
As such, it is important to provide a diverse set of communication channels to ensure that all of your workers can reach you. By catering to each generation’s communication preference, you can help bridge the generation gap and ensure that there are no strains or hindrances in interactions.
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