Uncovering the benefits of multigenerational workplaces

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coworkers laughingWe are in a unique position in today’s multigenerational workforce composed of employees from very distinct age groups. Sometimes it can feel like the different generations don’t even speak the same language! On the one hand there are younger managers leading Baby Boomers, and on the other hand there are senior managers leading teams with members that may be as young as their own children or even grandchildren. And while everyone tries their best to successfully navigate their way through these relationships, biases or ageism may arise.

The challenges from multigenerational workforces and age-related assumptions can affect employees and managers alike, regardless of their age or role in a company. This in turn can cause problems within any team and reduce productivity while increasing stress and possible disengagement.

Here are some ideas to avoid making age-related assumptions with a multigenerational team or work environment:

  • Remember that the principals of leadership don’t change based on the age of the team members. As a manager, it is important that you lead your team equally and fairly, regardless of their ages. As a team member, younger managers could bring value on par with long-standing older employees.
  •  Take the time to get to know your staff and manager(s), and what motivates them. Everyone’s life and career stages are unique: some may be married, some single, and still others may have families – children or parents – of various ages and needs. Moreover, some employees may have been with the company for decades, recently changed careers, or have targeted career goals. Regardless, you should engage your employees equally to discover more about them. Ask yourself if a special project could be the key to their engagement. How could flexible work arrangements benefit them in some way? Could your successor be someone on your team? This could present you with an opportunity to mentor them into the role.
  •  Consider using your team’s expertise to your advantage. Be they older or younger, your colleagues could be experts in areas that are new or unknown to you. You could use that expertise to learn how to master a pivot table for example, while you share your skills and experience with them about presentations. Do your employees have stronger digital skills than you? Could you help them learn a new system of doing things more efficiently?

There are many benefits to working in a multigenerational workplace. It can be a steep learning curve for some, but the outcome is well worth the investment. As more and more young managers move up in their careers to work alongside veteran employees, remember that younger people can bring new knowledge and enthusiasm to a workplace or project. And that can be infectious! It’s important to nurture and build on engagement instead of seeing only the obstacles or focusing on employees limited work experience.

by Julie Hayes

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