There is no denying that the twenty-first century comes with the influx of millennials into organisations. They rode in as a tidal wave would – strong, passionate and with new ideas.
However, it was the Baby Boomers, Traditionalists, and Gen X they had to work with; the older generation with a different set of ideologies and work ethic.
The encroachment of younger forces helped organisations learn of a subtler problem nibbling away at them – the challenges of a multigenerational workforce.
It is imperative to understand from the get-go that the management of diversity, especially the multiplicity of diversity within the workplace poised a complex problem. The modern work environment is not all that different from those of years past, with multiple generations existing in the same office.
However, as more boomers work past retirement age, the tech-savvy millennials continue to graduate and traverse into the workforce. The differences in values and communication styles among others becoming increasingly pronounced.
Of course, this has progressed onto even Neo-Millennials – Generation Z – most of whom are at the cusp of college age. The interesting workforce dynamic at the horizon raises the question once more – Can a multigenerational workforce co-exist?
Here are possible methods around how this could happen:
Forget The Categorisation
The average 35-year old manager of the former generation functions much in the same way as a 35-year old manager of today. While a degree of change behaviourally is expected, the end goal of every manager remains the same – to move their team.
Categorising boomers to behave a certain way or conservatively pushes the mind more along the lines of variations, notions and thoughts that has no meaning within organisational walls. At the end of the day, it’s a fruitless thought to consider different generations require different treatment and strive for drastically different goals.
Study Your Employees. Study Harder
You may have heard this multiple times, yes. It is still not bad advice. Just as you would research a new product or service, it is important to research people. A multigenerational workforce may derive different excitement from the same organization.
Additionally, it is important to understand their different forms of communication style. This requires a solid investment of time.
However, employee value propositions, and thereby focus group discussions go a long way into helping one understand what generates that attraction for the young and not so young among your workforce.
Historically, the pairing of young workers to seasoned executives has always been one of heightened productivity. Primarily, a younger workforce would always find it easier to learn from an experienced one.
This is, surprisingly, also prevalent in reverse, where seniors find it palatable to take some form of learning advice from juniors.
It’s simply because, people are aware that there exists no direct form of competition amongst them. Learning though encouraged, continues to remain extremely crippled on a peer-to-peer basis. All in all, it is most important to look at career paths. Better yet, “Wear the skin of an anthropologist with a multigenerational workforce.”
There are certain differences between inspiring and incentivising across generations. The young prefer work-life balance, while the old with families prefer monetary benefits.
Strike a chord within your organisation, for when traditionalists and Baby Boomers finally retire, the millennials rise with their much loved characteristics along with valuable experience passed down from the old.
[This post by Nishant Muralidharan first appeared on Mettl’s Official blog and has been reproduced with permission.]