In today’s diverse work environment, it’s common to find employees from different generations collaborating and contributing to the success of organizations. With each generation bringing unique perspectives, work styles, and values, businesses must understand and embrace generational differences to foster a harmonious and productive workplace. In this blog, we will explore the characteristics of different generations and discuss strategies to bridge the generational gap to help promote collaboration and development of strong intergenerational teams.
As of 2023, there are five different generations that are recognized in the workforce, this is the first time in history that the United States has encountered this.
The five generations are:
- The silent generation (1925-1945): Values hard work and loyalty to their employer.
- Baby Boomers (1946-1965): Known to work collaboratively with one another but has difficulty with change.
- Generation X (1965-1980): Recognized as dependable and educated.
- Millennials (1981-1996): Known to be tech-savvy and team-oriented.
- Gen Z (1997-2012): Progressive, values opportunities for growth and an inclusive work culture.
To learn more about “work” traits of each generation in the workplace, check out this article from Walden University.
Each generation has opinions about the one before and after them- whether good or bad. These thoughts can be detrimental in the workplace and prevent employees from feeling comfortable sharing ideas among the team. To prevent this, challenge negative stereotypes with your team. Promote a changed mentality of collaboration by bridging the generational gap in your workplace.
How to Bridge the Gap:
To effectively bridge the generational gap in the workplace, consider the following strategies:
- Encourage cross-generational collaboration: Create opportunities for different generations to work together on projects. These opportunities can help create understanding and appreciation for each other’s strengths. It can be helpful to assign employees in groups that may not typically work together; as some individuals may not go out of their comfort zone unless they are assigned to a group of new faces.
- Foster mentorship and reverse mentorship programs: Pair older employees with younger ones and vice versa. This allows for knowledge exchange, skill development, and building strong relationships. For example, employees from the “silent generation” have invaluable skills and knowledge that employees from younger generations may not have known- this is helpful for succession planning as well if your organization has an employee who is ready to retire. Another idea for this is a “lunch and learn” session. For example, there may be a few employees who utilize a program that helps them organize files on their computer- have them facilitate a session on how they use it so other employees can learn something new.
- Promote open communication: Establish channels for transparent and inclusive communication, ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard and respected. Regular team meetings, feedback sessions, and platforms for idea sharing can facilitate this. Asking your team about their experiences with ideas/projects can help promote discussion and be a perfect brainstorming session. For example, your organization may be going through a conversion process with new software. Newer employees may not know what to expect; however, employees who have been with the company for over 25 years can share their previous conversion experiences and discuss how to ensure a smooth conversion.
- Emphasize shared values: Focus on common goals, values, and organizational mission to unite employees from different generations around a shared purpose. Complete group activities that involve discussing values and provide an open format for employees to discuss this. It can be as simple as discussing what each person did in the summer as a child. Your employees will realize that they may share similar experiences and values through these activities.
Bridging the generational gap in your organization is possible. Emphasizing the importance of shared values, experiences and your organization’s mission can bring your multigenerational team together. To discuss how ESC can help you engage your employees, please contact us.