3 Ways to Manage a Multigenerational Workforce

By Account Executive Christine Baghjian 

 

As we get ready to enter 2020, there are five—count them, five—generations at work. How can we prepare to manage this multigenerational workforce? First, here’s a quick look at who they are and when they were born:

 

TraditionalistsBorn before 1946
Baby BoomersBorn 1946 – 1964
Generation X Born 1965 – 1976
MillennialsBorn 1977 – 1997
Generation ZBorn after 1997

 

You don’t need the Harvard Business Review to tell you that managing a multigenerational workforce is both challenging and stressful. But you might be looking for ways to diversify your approach. In other words, you need to know which workforce solutions are most appealing to each type of employee.

Here are three keys to creating an employee-friendly workplace—and, more to the point—what they look like to each generation of worker.

 

1. Establish and promote a favorable company culture.

Most of us know by now that a company’s best trait is a positive company culture. And we also know that members from different generations (to put it lightly) think differently. But how? Consider these characteristics of the four oldest generations and GenZ, and then think about how they could impact the way you shape your company culture.

Traditionalists

  • Hardworking and loyal
  • Professional matters come before personal matters
  • Believe that seniority rules

Baby Boomers

  • Currently control corporate culture
  • Value education and demand high quality
  • Prefer teamwork and face-to-face interaction

Gen X

  • Skeptical of authority
  • Seek work-life balance
  • Prefer self-reliance and minimal supervision

Millennials

  • Most diverse; 1 in 3 is a minority
  • Appreciates transparency and quick decisions
  • Prefer email communications and multitasking

Gen Z

  • View failure as a tool to succeed
  • Crave a strong work-life balance
  • Prefer to mix tech with human interaction

 

2. Offer perks that are fun for everyone and different for some.

Let’s be real—everyone loves PTO days, catered lunches, and recognition. But some benefits may be more valuable to one generation than they are to another. Here are some popular preferences that can help you diversify your benefits in a multigenerational workplace.

Traditionalists

  • Want an honest pay for honest work
  • Concerned about health and retirement
  • Appreciate celebrated recognition

Baby Boomers

  • Value health insurance
  • Desire retirement savings options
  • Appreciate flexible hours

Gen X

  • Often require childcare considerations
  • Need work-life balance
  • Value 401(k) plans and family insurance

Millennials

  • Attracted to student loan compensation
  • Value remote work opportunities
  • Demand employer flexibility

Gen Z

  • Value socially conscious employers
  • Seek to pursue their passion
  • Appreciate mental health awareness

 

3. Adjust conflict resolution as necessary.

Conflict management skills include various forms of communication, emotional intelligence, empathy, creative problem solving, and others. Now that we’re more familiar with multigenerational perspectives, let’s pair up the best forms of conflict management to each generation.

Traditionalists

  • Communication: Create an open dialogue and formalize agreements
  • Emotional Intelligence: Show respect and reiterate ground rules
  • Empathy: Hold employee accountable
  • Creative Problem Solving: Integrate goals and monitor compliance

Baby Boomers

  • Communication: Demonstrate active listening and negotiate
  • Emotional Intelligence: Be compromising
  • Empathy: Manage your emotions and have good self-control
  • Creative Problem Solving: Brainstorm problem-solving solutions

Gen X

  • Communication: Understand reluctant participants; consider written communication
  • Emotional Intelligence: Display self-regulation and encourage it in others
  • Empathy: Identify nonverbal cues
  • Creative Problem Solving: Is there an opportunity to inject humor?

Millennials

  • Communication: Quickly address the problem
  • Emotional Intelligence: Recognize improvements before addressing issues
  • Empathy: Be thoughtful about diversity and inclusion
  • Creative Problem Solving: Reconfigure relationships where necessary

Gen Z

  • Communication: Meet with parties using video chat; teach positive behaviors
  • Emotional Intelligence: Assert your feelings and those of others
  • Empathy: Show compassion and give constructive feedback
  • Creative Problem Solving: Address issue as opportunities to learn and then move on

While these themes and ideas may be representative of certain generations, please do not assume that they apply to everyone in those generational “buckets.” The workplace, like the world, is more complicated than that—nothing is black-and-white. However, with a better understanding of popular perspectives among certain members of the workforce, we can find ways to more easily interact with them.

For more news and insights about workforce management, let’s connect on LinkedIn! Until then, make sure you check out the Acara Solutions Resource Center more tips, topics, and trends. And don’t forget to check us out on TwitterLinkedInFacebook.

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