Data collected by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and AARP reveal that Generation Y (millennials) represents about 50 % of the world’s workforce. At the same time, the aging trend of the population suggests that the current age “over 65” is larger than ever. The overlap of the company’s younger and older workforce poses a challenge - how to ensure successful cooperation between them? A survey by Deloitte shows that only 6 % of all respondents believe that their leaders are capable of leading a multigenerational workforce. Moreover, AARP data state that 60 % of employees report the presence of intergenerational conflict in the workplace.
So how to avoid conflicts and ensure effective cooperation between employees? It is necessary to identify the key challenges that arise in the participation of a multigenerational workforce - identify those that are present in your company and address them with measures.
Key challenges in multigenerational workforce participation
According to SHRM, the problem with multigenerational workforce arises with differences in communication, work habits, cooperation and their expectations. These differences create an environment in which cooperation is difficult. SHRM recommends that you communicate with employees in the way that suits them best. The younger generation is dominated by electronic means of communication, while the older one mostly prefers calls and live conversations. Stick to the way that suits the individual and stay open to different ways of working. You need to understand that different generations have different approaches to work.
If you do not respond to the needs of individual groups of employees, it will most likely lead to lower productivity and job satisfaction. One of the essential recommendations of SHRM and AARP is to become proficient in understanding what your employees really want and need. You need to be aware of the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for every generation. Therefore, you have to understand the needs of your employees and adapt to them. Sam Johns, who is HR specialist and recruitment manager at Resume Genius, states: “Managers and human resources need to adapt to different work styles, as productivity works differently for individuals«. This can also mean providing a flexible workday.
How to cope with the multigenerational challenge?
1. Eliminate generational stereotypes
It is easier for companies to promote effective cooperation if they understand the needs of each generation and do not pay attention to stereotypes. Common stereotypes we attribute to the older generation are that they are less productive, uncreative and resistant to change. On the contrary, it is assumed that the younger generation is neither attentive nor committed. As Lindsey Pollak, an expert on intergenerational jobs, argues, we must not forget that the year of birth does not guarantee anything. Generations, however, are just lenses that give us insight into hints about people’s desires and behavior.
2. Gather feedback
Encourage the exchange of feedback within the company. Based on what you receive, implement measures that will have a positive impact on better cooperation between employees. It is important that you get both positive and negative feedback. Since it is not pleasant for employees to disclose negative information, do it with the help of anonymous survey questionnaires.
Through intergenerational collaboration, you provide yourself with an opportunity for growth. The quantifly analysis tool can help you with this.
Quantifly can also help you process and analyze data faster and more efficiently. It compares these anonymous opinions of employees with each other and transforms them into statistically relevant data through processing.
3. Encourage cross-collaboration and mutual mentoring
Pollak recommends that you encourage the exchange of skills between employees of different generations in the company. You can consider mentoring in a variety of combinations.
Intergenerational differences can create tensions and ineffective cooperation. However, we must not forget that with proper management, these differences also bring an opportunity for growth. Different views of the world and different opinions should definitely be welcomed and accepted in every company.
Pollak, L. (n.d.). The Multigenerational Workplace: Your Definitive Guide. Retrieved from: https://lindseypollak.com/the-multigenerational-workplace-your-definitive-guide/
SHRM (2017). Harnessing the Power of a Multigenerational Workforce. Retrieved from: https://www.shrm.org/foundation/ourwork/initiatives/the-aging-workforce/Lists/Curated%20s ource%20f or% 20page% 20The% 20Aging% 20Workforce / Attachments / 17/2017% 20TL% 20Executive% 20Summary-FINAL.pdf
Volini, E., Schwartz, J. and Mallon, D. (2020). The postgenerational workforce – from millennials to perennials. Retrieved from: https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/human-capital-trends/2020/leading-a-multi-generational-workforce.html