Creating a Modern Workplace with a Multi-Generational Team
Date Published: March 29, 2023
Five generations comprise the workforce today, making it the most varied ever from an age perspective. These generational differences are an asset for an organization when diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) measures are fused with a goals-focused, wellbeing-oriented company culture.
When not properly managed, generational gaps generate organizational asymmetry. This is most apparent with regard to the defining aspects of a modern workplace: communication, technology and hybrid work.
Align your staff across all age demographics. Ignite the innovation inherent to your diverse team. Learn solutions for obstacles that often arise when creating a modern workplace with a multi-generational team.
Communication Preferences and Protocols
Each generation has preferences regarding communication methods. Older workers typically prefer face-to-face conversations or email. They can become frustrated by what they feel is over-reliance on technology and when digital communications are ignored or misinterpreted.
Younger generations who grew up on all things digital rely on a wide variety of technological communications. They seamlessly adopt new digital tools that can be challenging for older generations to understand or embrace, including messaging applications.
Solution: Have a conversation with your team about communication preferences and establish protocols for when to use certain communications tools for different scenarios. For example, a quick question regarding a certain project will be posted via messaging on a specific channel, while a process change informing a large group can be sent through email.
The technology gap is a significant divergence - arguably the largest - among generations of workers. Gens Y and Z are true digital natives who came of age in a fully digital world with computers, smartphones and an array of applications. Older generations are digital immigrants who, as in the case of Baby Boomers, did not have access to modern computing conveniences, or in the case of Gen X, had minimal exposure. This divide between the inherently tech-acute and the not-quite tech-savvy is a major pain point for organizations around the world.
Solution: Get to know your team’s comfort level with technology. Frame conversations to combat any stigma attached to digital shortcomings, indicating that we all have varying levels of tech abilities. Be prepared to offer coaching, training and upskilling to bridge digital divides.
Aligning on Hybrid Work
One aspect of modern work uniting all generations of employees is their penchant for hybrid schemes. Workers of all ages cite the improved work-life balance that hybrid work affords, and associated time and cost savings on items such as commuting and child care.
Hybrid arrangements are not merely popular among younger workers; in many cases, this has become expected. Studies show that Millennials are likely to seek employment elsewhere if an employer revokes hybrid opportunities. Boomers feel similar with about a third saying they would leave if hybrid options ceased.
Instead, the divergence in attitudes concerning hybrid work typically occurs between leadership and staff, with the former advocating for in-person work and the latter resisting it. In this context, older leaders are more likely than younger managers to deplore the hybrid trend and attempt to deter it with in-office requirements.
Leaders bring up the following concerns with hybrid:
Deteriorating company culture
Poor communication and collaboration
Difficulty coordinating schedules
The truth is that in most cases a streamlined workflow that harnesses the best of digital capabilities in information sharing, communication, calendering and other functions can easily overcome these issues.
At the heart of much resistance by leaders to hybrid work is a cognitive bias called functional fixedness. This is when other possible functions and behaviours are ignored in favour of holding onto a preconceived notion of how a system should operate. Functional fixedness is a bias that strengthens as we age. While anyone can exhibit functional fixedness, leaders of older generations are more inclined to this oversight which can deter creating a modern workplace with a multi-generational team.
Solution: If members of your leadership team are resisting hybrid work, prepare materials that assuage their concerns, such as studies that indicate increased productivity and employee satisfaction with hybrid models. Consider assembling manager notes and opinions on how their team has operated in hybrid settings and/or an employee survey.
Each generation has something valuable to contribute to your company. Invest in your age-diverse workforce with learning opportunities that shore up weaknesses and play up strengths.
Priority Management has been at the forefront of skills development for workers of all ages and abilities for the last forty years. Our focus is real-world and measurable behavioural improvements that are the catalyst for positive change when creating a modern workplace with a multi-generational team.
Priority Management is a worldwide training company with 55 offices in 15 countries. We have successfully trained more than two million graduates in Priority workshops. Our programs help companies and people be more effective and manage their workflow in and out of the office by providing tools, processes and discipline. Simply put - A Better Way To Work! Clients range from Fortune 500 companies, small-to-medium businesses and government/military employees.
Click Here to learn more about how Priority can help you and your team WorkSm@rt, develop essential management skills and the competencies to....make life and work better and happier!