For the first time in history, we now have five generations in the workforce, with employees ranging in age and experience across six decades. How do you manage multigenerational teams with such diversity and possible differences?
The good news is that it might be easier than you think, since most generations want essentially the same things in a workplace, including camaraderie, interesting work and respect (and I am betting most wouldn’t turn down a healthy dose of flexibility and work/life balance, either).
Still, challenges are inevitable when you try to integrate people with many different life experiences, communication preferences and technological comfort levels into one cohesive group. Here are some recent articles that give insight and tips into bridging the generational divide and building more united and effective multigenerational teams.
PROMOTE EMPLOYEE MOBILITY AND CROSS-TRAINING
“To optimize employee satisfaction, companies should consider cross-training for different positions with a focus on the development of transferable skills. This will help to keep the younger generations engaged, while honoring the experience and tenure of older workers.”
CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR INTERGENERATIONAL MINGLING
“Left to their own devices, employees may tend to bunch up in age-based groups. So it can be helpful to use team-building activities or develop collaborative projects that pair younger employees with older ones to foster a greater atmosphere of understanding in the office. If they have different skills particular to their ages, they may even teach each other a thing or two."
OFFER CREATIVE SOLUTIONS TO SUIT DIFFERENT LOGISTICAL NEEDS
“Try to focus on the end result rather than how you get there. Be open to the idea of letting the Generation X staff work from home on occasion, or create open workspaces that allow Generation Y staff to work collaboratively with their team. Allow Traditionalists and Baby Boomers to work modified work schedules or part-time hours in order to allow them the flexibility of semi-retirement, or have them take on mentorship roles with the younger staff so that they can share their experience and wisdom with emerging team members.”
REMIND TEAMS THAT DIVERSITY PRODUCES A BETTER RESULT
“Working with people who are different from you may challenge your brain to overcome its stale ways of thinking and sharpen its performance. … Diverse teams are more likely to constantly reexamine facts and remain objective. They may also encourage greater scrutiny of each member’s actions, keeping their joint cognitive resources sharp and vigilant. By breaking up workplace homogeneity, you can allow your employees to become more aware of their own potential biases — entrenched ways of thinking that can otherwise blind them to key information and even lead them to make errors in decision-making processes.”
PROVIDE ACCESS AND TRANSPARENCY TO CREATE A WIN-WIN FOR EVERYONE
“The newest generations in your office grew up having computers in their pockets with instant access to virtually any piece of information in the world available at all times. This means that knowing the ‘what’ is no longer exciting, so the ‘why’ is even more important. Rather than just telling your team what to do, tell them why it’s important. Millennials and Gen Zs will expect to know as much as possible; Traditionalists, Boomers and Xers will see this as a fantastic bonus.”—This one’s from me!