Many of today’s businesses employ workers from across the generational spectrum. Some employers go by hiring older workers (like the Baby Boomers) to members of Generation X to Millennials to the newest group, Generation Z. Managing a multi generational workforce with a wide age range requires flexibility and skill. If you’re successful, you’ll likely see higher employee morale, stronger productivity and a more positive work environment for everyone.
Definitions of the generations vary slightly, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation defines them as follows:
Certain stereotypes have long been associated with each generation. Baby Boomers are assumed to be grumbling curmudgeons. Members from the “Gen X” group were originally consigned to being “slackers.” Millennials are often thought of as needy approval-seekers. And many presume that a “Gen Z” individual is helpless without his or her mobile device.
But successfully managing employees across generations requires setting aside stereotypes. Don’t assume that employees fit a certain personality profile based simply on age. Instead, you or a direct supervisor should get to know each one individually to better determine what makes him or her tick.
Recognize and respect value differences. Misunderstandings and conflicts often arise because of value differences between managers and employees of different generations. For example, many older supervisors expect employees to do “whatever it takes” to get the job done, including working long hours. However, some younger employees place a high value on maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Be sure everyone is on the same page about these expectations. This doesn’t mean younger employees shouldn’t have to work hard. The key is to find the right balance so that work is accomplished satisfactorily and on time, and employees feel like their values are being respected.
Maximize each generation’s strengths. Different generations tend to bring their own strengths to the workplace. For instance, older employees likely have valuable industry experience and important historical business insights to share. Meanwhile, younger employees — especially Generation Z — have grown up with high-powered mobile technology and social media. NOTE: Be sure to take a look at our previous article on employee electronic device policy!
Consider initiatives such as company retreats and mentoring programs. Doing so will give employees from diverse generations the opportunity to work together and share their knowledge, experiences and strengths. Encourage them to communicate openly and honestly and to be willing to learn from, rather than compete with, one another. You might also find our article on “gamication” helpful for additional ideas on employee engagement!
Having a multi generational workforce can be a competitive advantage. Your competitors may not have the hard-fought experience of your older workers nor the fresh energy and ideas of your younger ones. Our firm can help you develop cost-effective strategies for hiring, retaining and maximizing the work productivity of employees. We provide accounting services in Milwaukee and the surrounding Wisconsin areas.