Why We Should Embrace Generational Differences in the Workplace
What is the generation gap? Is it impactful at work?
This means differences in behavior and outlook between groups of people who were born at distinctly different times. More work is needed to cultivate an environment that respects each generation’s perspective and way of life. Each generation grows up in a different context and, as a result, may have different work expectations.
With the right mindset, managing the age gap can become second nature. Here are 5 benefits of generational diversity in the workplace:
1. Maintain a supportive attitude
This means supporting your employees and the work they do. It can have direct effects on your employee engagement initiatives. For example: Consider a scenario where an employee feels underappreciated due to the generation gap in the workplace – maybe it’s an older gentleman who takes a bit longer to do the same task as a millennial employee (due to the millennial’s technological skills). He constantly witnesses the millennial employee being congratulated for his super-fast, stellar efforts. Meanwhile, the older gentleman still gets his work completed correctly and on time, but no “congratulations” for him. That’s why stepping in and supporting your employee is a necessity.
2. Promote collaboration and teamwork
Collaboration tools are exactly what it takes for great ideas and solutions to come to fruition, and they can also help boost productivity and time management. Unfortunately, collaboration is occasionally stunted by the generation gap in the workplace, although there are ways around this.
Promoting collaboration is something that can be approached in many different ways, but perhaps the most effective way is to make it a necessity. Tasking two or more individuals on a project is often the jumpstart people need to learn. They can actually accomplish more by working together. Most people find that working with those from other generations is a great way to learn and grow as a professional.
3. Don’t act like a know-it-all
One of the greatest things about working with employees of different age groups is the chance to learn and improve your leadership skills. Although, some managers and CEOs think they already “know it all.” This can lead to shutting out great ideas and solutions brought on by your employees.
Millennials, for example, have made a name for themselves as a generation because of their tendency to push the envelope and think outside the box. Rather than be suppressed, this form of thinking should be celebrated and encouraged. Learn how to communicate with millennials at work.
The most essential is to pass each day with an open mind, accepting ideas that might come to the table. Otherwise, you will just be another know-it-all boss, and no one will be comfortable and want to work for someone like that.
4. Develop a mentorship or coaching program
Different generations have quite a bit to learn from each other.
Baby boomers have been at this whole “business” thing for some time now, and there’s something about the real-world experience that can’t be taught in a classroom. Millennials, on the other hand, have grown up in a world where technology has changed practically everything about how we approach modern business. No matter how you cut it, these two generations could benefit from teaching each other a few things.
A great way to manage the generation gap in the workplace and facilitate cross-generational education is to develop a mentorship program within your organization. This creates a fair and balanced platform so each party can benefit, and it can also help build stronger interpersonal relationships between colleagues.
5. Keep your expectations reasonable
As a manager, there’s nothing wrong with maintaining certain expectations from your staff. With this in mind, you need to keep your expectations reasonable if you expect staff members to accomplish what you’re asking.
For example, the difficulties that some baby boomers have with learning how to use advanced technology and business communication tools, millennials may find such a task to be second nature. This alone is enough to prove that expectations need to be properly managed in order to be effective.
When outlining expectations, one thing to always consider is the generation gap in the workplace. This will help give you some perspective regarding whether or not you’re asking too much from some employees. If you find that you are, then you should start scaling back expectations slightly. If you remain reasonable, you can expect your employees to have a better chance of finding success.
In Conclusion, Managing the generation gap in the workplace is all about empowering your employees and showing them the respect that would boost productivity.
Sticking to old routines can have a tendency to go against this, which is why you should re-evaluate the routines you currently have in place. Creating NEW routines may serve your business well, bringing about higher rates of both productivity and employee engagement.
No matter how you cut it, you’re bound to run into scenarios where the age gap has an impact on productivity. Instead of fearing these types of situations, you should take the time to embrace them. Use the tips presented above and things will begin to run a lot better. A big part of managing the generation gap in the workplace is simply to be comfortable with it and understand how to approach it.