By: LaKisha C. Brooks, M.S. M.Ed., CDR, CDP
MANAGING MULTI-GENERATIONS IN YOUR ORGANIZATION
There are five generations active in today’s workforce, including Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z. This means that your organization is likely to include employees across various ages and generational backgrounds.
- Traditionalists were born 1927 to 1946.
- Baby Boomers were born 1947 to 1964.
- Generation X were born 1965 to 1980.
- Millennials were born 1981 to 1996.
- Generation Z were born 1995 to 2020.
Since these employees were born at different historical points, they all have different experiences and perspectives on life and work. They bring these distinct differences into your business, along with both benefits and challenges for your company.
Management teams must take these differences into account so that they meet the unique needs of all employees.
They must also ensure that ageism, which is discrimination or bias towards someone because of their age, is not occurring.
Benefits of Managing Multi-Generations in Your Organization
Having a team of multi-generational employees brings several benefits to your business. Younger employees, such as Generation Z, and Millennials, were born when technology was rapidly advancing. They grew up with the internet, instant messaging, and email. They rely heavily on social media. They are tech-savvy and find it easier than older generations to adapt to new software programs and technology-based systems that your organization might use or want to use. They understand the power and influence of social media and how to use it to help a business grow in various ways. Employees who are Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Traditionalists have a wealth of knowledge and experience to bring to your organization and team. They understand the value of leadership and hard work in accomplishing company goals. In addition, they have had the experience and time to perfect their soft skills and technical skills. Whatever their area of expertise is, they know it well, which positions them as great leaders regardless of whether they are in management.
Challenges of Managing Multi-Generations in Your Organization
Although the diversity of a multi-generational team brings excellent benefits, it also presents management teams with challenges. The needs of employees across different generations vary.
It can be challenging to implement systems that work well together for all ages. Introducing new CRM software to a multi-generational team will be challenging for everyone, but older generations may experience more frustration with learning new systems. Older generations may not as quickly understand concepts and features that are often selling points of new technology. When it comes to management, there may be resistance across the different generations if someone feels others are managing them, they have more knowledge than. Younger employees may be more resistant to authority than older employees. Older employees may feel offended if they are driven by someone younger than them. Employees could have unreasonable expectations towards working with others in a different age group than them. Employees of different ages also may have difficulty in naturally connecting in the workplace. These challenges could also affect teamwork when it is time to collaborate.
Effectively Managing Multi-Generations in Your Organization
To combat the challenges of managing multi-generational employees, management teams must use some creative solutions. Know what your employees’ needs and values are. Generally, younger workers want flexibility, social activities, learning opportunities, and meaningful work. Older employees value healthcare, compensation, and advancement opportunities. Younger employees may be worried about college or education-related debt and being effective in their position. More senior employees may have families and be concerned about future health needs and retirement. Management teams should consider these factors in their compensation and incentive packages. It will also be helpful to provide plenty of opportunities for employees to connect and collaborate across ages and departments. This can be done through team-building activities, social outings, mentorship opportunities, and collaborative work projects. Lastly, use age as a guideline for management and not a hard rule. Every person born in a particular generation will not behave the same way, nor will they share the same values, beliefs, or barriers. Therefore, it’s essential to treat each employee as an individual, which will help manage these age groups effectively.