Today’s workplace includes employees from four different generations, from around 1946 to the present.
Work habits, social values, communication style, and even the choice of emoji in messages can create a gap between employees of different ages.
Working remotely can also cause the generation gap to widen, an important consideration is that 36.2 million Americans are predicted to go mobile by 2025.
Here are solutions to four generation-gap difficulties to assure that age-related stress doesn’t affect your business goals.
Communication barriers that prevent productivity
The impact technology has on simple work functions cannot be underestimated.
But it’s also worth keeping in mind that different generations may have very different experiences and levels of comfort with today’s devices.
While a Generation Z employee (born in 1996 or later) practically grew up surrounded by screens, a Gen Xer (born between 1965 and 1980) may still find Zoom meetings uncomfortable and unproductive.
An effective approach is to not rely too much on one communication style or tool for your company. While the pandemic has increased our reliance on video meeting platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet, don’t make these your only way of communicating.
Instead, talk face-to-face or on the phone whenever possible.
The idea that all employees are motivated by the same thing
The belief that all employees are the same can be harmful.
For example, a baby boomer may keep more money for retirement, while a millennial may be looking for a balance to pay off student loans with spending more time with a growing family.
So boomers may be better encouraged with bonuses, while millennials will appreciate an afternoon off as a reward for completing a particularly brutal project.
With a little effort, the characteristics that differentiate each generation can be used to benefit your company.
You may also consider cross-generational mentor programs that focus on specific business goals. For example, pair an uber-communicative boomer with a tech-savvy millennial or Gen-Zer aiming to increase their social media reach.
Innovative, flexible initiatives like these can help keep your “blended family” of employees happy, productive, and loyal.
Different workplace/work routine requirements that make up the division
Expectations for the workplace and what is seen as satisfactory work can vary between generations.
For example, a recent survey showed that the majority of Gen Z people shy away from the idea of a traditional 9-to-5 job and highly favor remote work.
Thus, you may need to referee between competing assumptions regarding some basic workplace parameters, such as:
- Start and finish time
- Time policies
- Accommodation for issues related to mental health and wellness etc.
- Expression of values/advocacy for the cause at work and on social media
- Work-life balance
- Remote vs. in-office work and hybrid situations
The key is to balance consistency with flexibility to keep everyone satisfied and united.