Every generation tends to be wary of the one that follows them, oftentimes because of the stereotypes and assumptions that come with each group. Each generation is shaped by events, trends, cultural norms and economic conditions that greatly influence who they are. Both those stereotypes and influences often come into play in the workplace.
When a workforce features coworkers of all ages, there may be times when it’s difficult to manage and engage with them because work styles, viewpoints and communication styles are different. Generational stereotypes have the potential to hinder office spaces, which can lead to negative work experiences and the inability for coworkers to effectively work together.
However, there is true strength in those differences and when done correctly, managing a multigenerational office can lead to many positives. Continue reading to learn the best ways to engage with and manage your multigenerational workforce.
What is a Multigenerational Workforce?
A multigenerational workforce features coworkers that span different generations. According to the Harvard Business Review, for the first time in modern history there are now five generations simultaneously in the workforce.
- The Silent Generation (comprised of 70/80 year olds that have not retired)
- Baby Boomers
- Gen X
- Gen Z
Each generation comes with their fair share of stereotypes. According to Psychology Today, here are the defining stereotypes of each generation:
- The Silent Generation: traditionalists, don’t understand technology
- Baby Boomers: resistant to change, values verbal communication over technology, workhorses
- Gen X: cynical, focused on work-life balance
- Millennials: entitled and tech-savvy
- Gen Z: pessimistic and too reliant on technology
Harmful stereotypes can make it difficult for multigenerational offices to work together. Each generation entered the workforce under specific circumstances, which shapes beliefs and overall approaches to life and work.
Educating one another on the realities that each generation has faced/is facing can help us avoid assumptions and make way for understanding beliefs, choices and priorities.
Work on Effective Communication
From phone calls and in-person meetings to emails, text messages, Slack and Zoom, each generation has their own preferred method of communication. Older generations prefer phone calls and in-person meetings, while younger generations lean toward shorter forms of communication. Phone calls and in-person meetings may feel unnecessary to younger generations. Written communication can lead to misinterpretations of tone and punctuation for others.
The best way to manage effective communication is by building a work culture that includes both. In-person meetings and phone calls can be done when teams need to flesh out extensive ideas. Emails and Slack messages can be used for simple, straightforward tasks. Blending the communication styles recognizes everyone’s preferences.
Avoid the Us vs. Them Mentality
Younger generations may feel judged by older colleagues or nervous to ask for help. Older generations may feel the need to closely manage or dismiss their younger counterparts. Division can lead to a negative work environment.
In order to gain a strong understanding of office dynamics, managers should closely watch how coworkers interact; socially and during meetings. Making sure everyone has the room to speak, share ideas, ask questions and be heard levels the playing field and makes way for office collaboration. It also lets every member of the team know that they are an equal partner whose opinions are valued and appreciated.
Prioritizing effective communication and recognizing differences as strengths can make managing a multigenerational office easier. If your office needs help with marketing, website design or social media management, Blufish is here to help. Contact us today for more information.