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.
Learn More: How to Use Generational Differences to Improve Employee Engagement and Retention
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.
Learn More: Building Work Relationships Through Microsoft Teams
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.
Learn More: Upskilling and Reskilling for the Digital Workplace
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