With four generations in the workplace, employers find themselves managing one of the most generationally diverse workforces ever.
Effectively managing an intergenerational workforce, then, means meeting workers’ diverse needs, and harnessing each generations’ unique strengths to facilitate collaboration and help every team member feel valued. The following 5 tips and best practices can help.
1. Offer Flexible Working Arrangements
Workers today demand flexibility from their employers, and accommodating different working styles helps the whole team succeed. Gen X and Millennial workers in particular crave work arrangements that allow for better work-life balance. Boomers generally like coaching-style mentoring, while Gen Z thrives on independence and self-directed work.
Take into account generational trends, as well as each employee’s unique strengths, when assigning out duties. And use your employees’ working styles as a guide to how best — and how often — to check in.
2. Vary Your Communication
Managing an intergenerational workforce also means taking intergenerational differences into account when communicating with the team.
Older generations tend to prefer whatever communication medium feels most efficient, including face-to-face and phone communication, while Gen Z and Millennials gravitate to instant messages (IMs) and texts. But younger generations have their differences, too. While millennials prefer email communication, Gen Z generally avoid email in favor of social media.
Manage team members effectively by choosing the communication style they prefer whenever possible. When sending messages to the entire team, try using multiple channels — for example, email, phone and social media — so each team member feels included.
3. Make Mentorship a Priority
Mentorship can help cross generational divides, giving older and younger generations a chance to learn from each other — and celebrate their differences.
Boomers, in particular, thrive in mentorship roles, so pairing senior team members with young and new hires can serve as an opportunity to pass on their years of expertise. At the same time, tech-savvy younger workers bring new skills to the mentorship that can help the pair work more effectively.
Look at older and younger workers with complementary skills as mentoring opportunities, and seek out unexpected pairings — for example, mentorship between teams or departments — to enhance multigenerational learning.
4. Focus on Your Mission
Having common goals fosters better collaboration and teamwork, so rally the team around your cause to reduce intergenerational friction. Clearly communicate your organization’s mission, and how your team’s work fits into it, to encourage employees to focus on the bigger picture.
Most generations thrive on immediate feedback from their managers, so check in frequently and solicit feedback from your team. This will allow you to monitor your progress, as well as identify and address inter-office issues early.
5. Embrace Each Worker’s Unique Strengths
While different generations may bring different working styles, life experiences and attitudes into the workplace, all workers want to feel appreciated.
Taking time to recognize the team’s accomplishments and highlighting the unique skills and talents each worker contributed, helps foster a sense of community in the office — one that can soothe intergenerational conflicts and bring out the best in the team.