5 tips for managing a multi-generational workplace.

May 15, 2019

America’s workforce has evolved into a melting pot of different generations ranging from Baby Boomers to Millennials. Employers are now forced to mind the age gaps. Younger workers are filling more positions while older workers are staying put. According to a study by Pew Research, more than one-in-three American workers are Millennials. Nowadays, it’s typical for a 65-year-old to be working on the same project as a 25-year- old. This can present challenges for employers. Below, we’ve laid out five pieces of advice for employers to follow when managing a multigenerational workforce.

1) Get them talking – to each other.

Camaraderie can conquer almost anything when it comes to the workplace. Open communication in a multigenerational workforce isn’t just helpful – it’s crucial. It’s no secret that stereotypes exist surrounding younger generation workers like Millennials and Gen X’ers. However, using those stereotypes to form assumptions about coworkers can damage a well-built company culture as quickly as a bad hire. So, how do you prevent those stereotypes from infecting the workplace? Introduce more collaborative opportunities. It can be as simple as creating a small team that includes several employees of different ages and asking them to brainstorm ideas around any given project. People don’t often realize that simple differences in things like age aren’t as relevant as they once were. The more discussion that develops between your team members, the more ideas and new thoughts are exchanged – leading to better quality work down the road.

2) Utilize generational talents.

Top companies invest time and resources into creating a culture of learning. What some employers miss, however, is the opportunity to build that environment using their existing assets – current employees. Leadership can merge the experience and commitment of veteran workers with the enthusiasm and innovative thinking of junior staff to create an in-house think tank. Younger workers have a heightened passion for trying new things and over-communicating their ideas. In contrast, employees with a longer tenure have experience and time-built strategies that can help Millennials and Gen X’ers understand the costs and risks associated with new ideas. Employers should encourage workers of all generations to be open-minded and forward thinking when it comes to collaborating with coworkers no matter their age. This can lead to higher production levels and better-quality work.

3) Establish short-term goals and objectives.

One way to prevent generational division is to establish short term goals around a project or outcome. Research shows that younger generations are motivated when they can see results on a consistent basis. In contrast, older workers tend to develop long term goals throughout their career that include small victories periodically. Setting goals that are attainable within a short time frame can adhere to both perspectives. Employers can bring together a group of people (that vary in age) and set clear expectations on what needs to get done and when. This allows employees to focus on the task(s) at hand while using each other’s strengths to help reach overall objectives.

4) Know what motivates.

Taking time to recognize and understand what motivates your employees can boost your overall company culture and increase productivity. Employers need to understand that different generations are motivated by different things and operate very differently. Millennials, for example, understand the need for instant gratification and how the digital arena works because they grew up with it. However, their enthusiasm and new ideas aren’t accompanied by significant experience or matured self-awareness. Their motivation comes from a healthy work/life balance, flexibility in their career and meaningful work rather than other perks or employee benefits. Meanwhile, older workers may be primarily focused on monetary advances and promotions. Their profound knowledge in their field allows them to see the big picture during projects and invest more time into each step. Employers should set aside time to discuss different motivational factors and develop strategies based on those needs.

5) Provide feedback for everyone.

Employers should evaluate their employees based on their performance and who they are rather than the generation they belong to. It’s easy to get caught up in age and differences in perspectives. However, one of the most important keys to managing a multigenerational workforce is to provide constructive feedback to everyone based on the individual and their work. That being said, it’s important to note that each generation thrives on a different kind of feedback. Workers with significant experience under their belt prefer feedback that focuses on building skills and growth opportunities. Their career goals are loftier than those of younger generations and more established. So, feedback sessions with Baby Boomers should involve determining long-term goals as they most likely have retirement and financial security top-of-mind. When offering feedback to Millennials and Generation X’ers, be specific about their work and performance. Younger employees live with an instant gratification mindset. Employers should be cognizant of that during evaluations and provide them with short-term goals and deliverables that can be achieved quickly. Investing in internal processes such as performance evaluations can boost overall company morale and keep your employees satisfied.

We can help.

Managing a multigenerational workforce can be difficult. That’s why our team is ready to step in and take care of the details. Leadership should spend their time on big-picture tasks such as new business and internal growth. We’re here to handle the rest. SourcePointe offers a variety of strategicadministrative and operational HR services that can help your company stand out. A well-managed company attracts and retains top talent, and we want to help make that happen for you. We also provide clients with comprehensive employee benefits packages if needed and assistance with payroll services. Many employers don’t yet know what they need to help their business grow. Fortunately, our team is made up of human resources professionals that do. 

At SourcePointe, we utilize our industry-experience to provide you with a multitude of customizable HR services, support, and solutions. All so your business can do one thing – more business. We’ll provide tailor-made solutions that fit your company’s needs while providing a solid return on your investment that pays off immediately – and for many years after that.

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