The Changes that Come from a Multigenerational Workforce
We have reached a time where workplaces have become more diverse. Much of this is due to a multigenerational workforce who have varied work habits, communication styles, and job expectations.
While having access to multiple generations increases the pool of employees, the changing demographics come with their own unique set of benefits and challenges. So how do these changes affect your company?
What is a Multigenerational Workforce?
A multigenerational workforce is made up of several generations. This includes:
- The Silent Generation- those born between 1928-1945
- Baby Boomers- those born between 1946-1964
- Generation X- those born between 1965-1980
- Millennials- those born between 1981-1996, and
- Generation Z- those born between 1997-2015
While there are fewer members of the silent generation than the other generations in the workplace, you still have a varied group of individuals. To navigate these changing demographics, it’s important to understand the strengths that each generation can add to your workplace.
Younger generations are used to changing technologies, which makes it easier for them to adapt to new tools. Older generations have knowledge from years of experience that can help guide decisions.
You also need to prepare for the challenges that come from different communication styles and expectations in the workplace. Balancing the strengths and challenges will help you put together a cohesive workforce that can build on strengths and work together.
The Benefits of Multiple Generations
One of the greatest advantages of multiple generations in the workplace is the ability to pull from multiple perspectives. Each generation has a different way to view the world which affects how they view their job roles and responsibilities. These multiple perspectives provide new ways to deal with problems.
If you can get multigenerational workforces to come together to share ideas, you can bring in the knowledge of older generations to support innovations introduced by younger generations. This also leads to more creative solutions and multiple options to choose from, which means better solutions.
Life experiences change how different generations interact with their surroundings and with others. This provides opportunities for the different generations in your company to learn from each other.
Older generations can help those from younger generations learn from their experience as the younger group enters the workforce. Younger generations can help older generations learn from current trends and technologies to help promote improvement opportunities for your company.
The Challenges of the Generation Gaps
Since life experiences are so varied between the different generations, this will affect how they feel comfortable communicating. Differences in communication styles can lead to misunderstandings around tone and language. It’s important to help employees find the best way to communicate so you can reduce these misunderstandings and poor communication issues.
Different generations generally have differences in their expectations in the workplace too. It can be difficult to meet the expectations of your employees when these expectations vary across groups. People from these different groups will look at their duties, training needs, or employee evaluation needs differently.
You can see this difference in expectations when it comes to payment and benefits across generations. You need to find a way to bridge these expectations to meet the needs of your workforce though.
Another common challenge when it comes to multiple generations is combating stereotypes. As with all diverse groups, different generations have preconceived ideas about those in another age group.
The common stereotypes seen are that younger generations are too sensitive and entitled. Younger generations often see older groups as inflexible and afraid of technology. This can lead to conflict and toxic cultures if not addressed.
Remember, even when dealing with accepted generalizations within each age group, you can’t base decisions on these things. People are individuals and won’t always fit a specific box. It’s still important to make decisions on an individual basis.
How to Navigate the Needs of Multiple Generations
The first step to navigating a multigenerational workforce is to develop inclusive recruiting and hiring habits. It’s important to eliminate any potential age bias in your hiring practices. Make sure hiring personnel understand the need for diversity and look for multiple avenues for recruitment to reach a larger pool of employees.
This includes paying attention to the wording in your job ads. Strive for neutral language and avoid terms or phrases that target specific generations. When using media, make sure you include diverse groups. Most importantly, find ways, such as AI, to reduce bias when evaluating resumes or conducting interviews.
Provide Diverse Employee Benefits
Differing expectations among a multigenerational workforce mean you need to make sure employee benefits can meet the needs of all your age groups. This means providing job perks that meet cross-generational needs.
You can provide wellness packages and paid time-off which are benefits that are good for all generations. Other options include professional development programs, internal career advancement, financial investments, and social events to hit needs for different generations.
Meeting Communication Needs
The best way to cut down on communication issues is to find middle ground. Find ways employees communication can meet the needs of everyone.
This means looking for methods that will make everyone feel included and are easy to use. When dealing with individuals, managers can strive to communicate with them in ways that will make the employees comfortable.
Make Expectations Clear
You need to be clear about what you expect from employees up front. Make them aware of company goals and requirements for their specific roles on these company goals. Provide opportunities for feedback that help employees improve and continue with positive behaviors.
Training, especially orientation training, is a great way to help make expectations clear. Start them out with the tools they need to succeed at their jobs. Ongoing and corrective action training can also help maintain these goals and keep everyone on the same page.
Providing Constructive Feedback
Not everyone will feel comfortable giving or receiving feedback in the same way, especially with a multigenerational workforce. It’s important to keep these differences in mind.
When it comes to giving feedback, some people are comfortable speaking up, while others are better with a more one-on-one feedback process. Still others will need a less conspicuous way of speaking up. These differences are the same when it comes to receiving feedback. Make sure you provide multiple avenues for feedback between employees and leadership.
Adapt to Workstyle Needs
For a productive company, you need to understand what environment will promote the best employee performance for each person. Being able to adapt to multiple needs will make you more attractive to new and existing employees.
This can be as simple as providing tools they are comfortable working with. It can also mean providing options such as flexible work hours, varied schedules, virtual employment, etc. to help you compete for the best employees.
Encourage Employee Development
Employees need the chance to improve and advance their skills in the workplace, so they have more advancement opportunities. These employee development options help your employees feel valued and more committed to your company. Creating and encouraging employee development can also help you bridge the gap between different generations.
Prepare for future needs with upskilling and reskilling programs. Provide optional training to teach on new technologies or other skills more in-depth so everyone has an opportunity to improve and grow. You can even have mentorship programs that allow a multigenerational workforce to come together and learn from each other.
Develop and Nurture a Culture of Inclusivity
While biases exist, you need to do everything you can to dispel these biases within the workplace. This can be as simple as providing training opportunities to help employees from different age groups better understand each other.
This also means making sure discrimination and bias are eliminated from all processes. This requires bringing in employees from all levels to help improve inclusivity. Make it a part of your culture so new and existing employees understand the importance.
Training Options for Multiple Generations
As you can see, it takes plenty of training and work to bring a multigenerational workforce together. If you make it work though, the diversity is very rewarding.
Whether it’s orientation training, maintaining a regular training schedule, corrective action needs, or providing employee development options, you need training that can meet the needs of everyone without disrupting your daily workflow.
Infinit-I Workforce Solutions has an online training management system that allows you to provide for the training needs of all your employees in short messages they can retain. Since the platform is online, employees can access the training from any device and at any time to make it more convenient for them. It’s simple to use which makes Infinit-I a great tool for all generations.
Would you like to see how Infinit-I Workforce Solutions can transform your training program? Request a demo today to see the system in action for yourself.