"Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another." -Gilbert K. Chesterton
Today's companies have a more age diverse workforce than ever before; this refers to a multigenerational workforce in which different generations work together while having different needs and workstyles. These generations are working side-by-side while carrying the company’s goals and objectives. Experiences and perspectives vary from each generation, that is why problems and challenges are expected to happen.
A multigenerational workforce is made up of employees from different generations who work as a team. They claim that the current workforce's age diversity is greater than ever before. Organizations are beginning to adapt to these changes in anticipation of potentially managing or working with teams made up of people from four to six generations at the same time in the coming years. The generations are as follows:
Traditionalists (also known as Veterans, the Silent Generation, and the Greatest Generation) – these are the employees who are civic minded, loyal, team players, and like to focus on long term projects.
Baby Boomers (also known as Workaholics) – they have a strong work ethic and are operating from a values-based perspective. They are climbing the organization ladder and familiar with technologies
Generation X – this generation consists of people who are more independent, confident, adaptable to technology, and willing to put extra time and effort on whatever they are doing. You can picture them as someone who is more likely to walk away from an inflexible workplace.
Millennials (also known as Generation Y) – they have liberal and tolerant views, open to new ideas and considered as a driving force of today’s workplace. They are purpose driven and crave interactions and new experiences. In terms of technology, we could say that they are confident with their knowledge and experiences using it.
Generation Z – they are fast paced, independent and competitive, appreciate technology, and well-connected.
While it’s all fun and exciting working with different generations, having a more diverse workforce may result in incompatibility in terms of communication styles, preferences, perspectives, and personalities. According to data compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and AARP, millennials account for approximately 50% of the workforce, while the population of people over 65 is larger than ever, resulting in preference overlap. The former is more concerned with purpose and personal development, whereas the latter are more concerned with security and stability. AARP data also reveals that 60% of workers report the presence of generational conflict in their workplace, implying that creating a workplace composed of different generations can be difficult.
According to a recent workmonitor study conducted by Randstad, 85% of the surveyed employees and jobseekers in Singapore said that they are already working with a multigenerational team and 44% of them find it difficult to communicate with their co-workers who are not from their age group.
With these numbers, employers, managers, and leaders are expected to be knowledgeable about generations' preferences, communication styles, needs, and personalities, as this type of workforce will inevitably face challenges. They should also have a higher level of awareness because there is no one-size-fits-all solution to potential problems.
Address the issues and foster a safe and encouraging environment for them. You may also want to learn about their career motivators and aspirations to better understand where they are headed. Give them the right tools to maximize productivity; make them productive while catering to their unique preferences. When working in a multigenerational workplace, it is critical to respect your coworkers regardless of their age. Create a safe space for them to express themselves, listen to what they have to say, and try to learn each communication style they are comfortable with.
The importance of having an effective multigenerational management must be deeply engraved in the company's policies and culture. Ensuring employees satisfaction despite differences must be the top priority of companies and leaders. Focusing on areas that cause the most workplace conflicts is a big step toward embracing a multigenerational workforce.
Nothing is more powerful than applying what is learned.
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(2018, July 30). Retrieved from Randstad: https://www.randstad.com.sg/about-us/press- releases/singapore-employees-prefer-same-age-or-older-managers/
Harnessing the Power of a Multigenerational Workforce. (2017, October 2). Scottsdale, Arizona, USA.