Today’s multigenerational workforce is more diverse than ever, with five generations of employees together in the workplace, each with their own attitudes, views, values, and approaches.
Leaders are finding that yesterday’s one-size-fits-all leadership style isn’t working, and that embracing generational diversity and creating inclusivity across all age groups is critical for building an engaged and high-performing workforce.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the different generations in today’s workforce and provide tips and strategies for managing a multigenerational team.
Understanding the Generational Differences
The first step in managing a successful multigenerational workforce is to understand the differences between each generation. By understanding these differences, managers can tailor their approach to each individual and create a more cohesive, productive team.
Traditionalists (1927 – 1946)
Known as the Silent Generation, traditionalists are those who lived through major events such as the Great Depression and World War II. They are known for their dependability, strong work ethic, loyalty, and respect for authority. They possess a wealth of knowledge and experience, and value structure, certainty, and stability in the workplace.
To meet the needs of traditionalists, employers should provide a structured, control and command work environment with clear expectations and procedures. Traditionalists value order and predictability, so employers should communicate clearly and provide face-to-face feedback regularly. Traditionalists seek conventional benefits, so employers should consider providing things such as long-term care insurance.
Baby Boomers (1947 – 1964)
Baby Boomers are the second largest generation in today’s workforce. They possess a strong work ethic, are self-driven and disciplined, and are known for their loyalty to their employers. They value job security and stability, prefer long-term employment, and are highly motivated by success and teamwork.
To meet the needs of baby boomers, employers should provide a collegial and cooperative work environment that enables them to contribute to company goals and puts them into mentorship roles. Baby boomers are comfortable with democratic and authentic leadership styles and appreciate coaching-style feedback. They expect traditional benefits such as retirement funding and healthcare, but also value rewards such as bonuses and flexible retirement planning.
Generation X (1965 – 1980)
Otherwise known as the Silent Generation, Gen X is the first generation that grew up within latch-key households and are known for their independence and self-reliance. They are fair, competent and straight-forward, and are often unimpressed with authority. They are motivated by efficiency, work-life balance, and personal-professional interests, and they value competency and honesty in the workplace.
To meet the needs of Gen X, employers should provide a fair and open leadership style that provides loose guidelines and encourages an entrepreneurial spirit. Gen Xers value ongoing learning and skill-building, so employers should provide opportunities for professional development and training. They also seek workplace flexibility, such as remote work or flexible work hours, as well as traditional benefits.
Millennials (1981 – 2000)
Also known as Generation Y, Millennials are the largest generation in today’s workforce. They are known for their tech-savviness and entrepreneurial spirit. They value work-life balance, and are more likely to prioritize their personal lives over their careers, making them less loyal to their employers than previous generations. They are highly motivated by responsibility, seek unique work experiences, and enjoy freedom and flexibility.
To meet the needs of Millennials, employers should provide a laissez-faire leadership style that provides them with autonomy and the opportunity to be involved in the brainstorming stage. Because Millennials value flexibility and growth, employers should provide a flexible work environment that allows plenty of continued learning and career development opportunities.
Generation Z (2001 – 2020)
Generation Z is the first generation to grow up entirely in the digital age, and as a result, are extremely tech-savvy. They are realistic, have a global mindset, and are entrepreneurial and progressive. They are also less likely than past generations to accept the status-quo. They are motivated by diversity, personalization, individuality and creation, and they will play an important role in shaping the future of the workplace.
To meet the needs of Gen Z, employers should provide a coaching leadership style that meets their collaborative and open-minded attitude. Gen Z values individuality and self-identity, so employers should provide career growth opportunities, meaningful and impactful work, and a personalized employee experience.
Encouraging Communication and Collaboration
One of the most important aspects of managing a multigenerational workforce is to encourage communication and collaboration across generations.
This can be accomplished through regular team meetings, brainstorming sessions, and team-building activities. Not only do these activities help remove barriers to communication across generations, but they help build a strong sense of team comradery.
By fostering an environment of open communication and collaboration, managers can help bridge the gap between different generations and create a more cohesive and productive team. Additionally, encouraging cross-generational mentoring and coaching can help team members learn from each other’s strengths and develop new skills.
Fostering a Culture of Respect and Inclusion
Equally important in managing a multigenerational workforce is creating a culture of respect and inclusion.
This means valuing the unique life experiences, perspectives, values and drivers of each generation and creating an environment where everyone feels respected, heard, and appreciated.
Managers can foster a culture of respect and inclusion by encouraging open communication, listening to feedback, and promoting teamwork and collaboration. It is critical to set expectations regarding workplace culture and behavior, and to recognize and address signs of ageism and discrimination to ensure all team members are treated with dignity and respect.
Embracing the Multigenerational Workforce
Today’s multigenerational workforce provides employers with numerous benefits, including the opportunity to bring multiple perspectives, different problem-solving abilities, and a rich and diverse talent base to business challenges and opportunities.
By creating a culture of respect and inclusion, and by understanding each generation’s needs and values, leaders can adapt to create inclusivity, inspire productivity, and maximize the benefits of a multigenerational workforce.
XpanseHR helps businesses better find, manage and develop a high-performing workforce. From training and development, to workplace conflict resolution, to engagement surveys and more, we’re here for all of your people management needs.