Workplaces have experienced gradual changes over the years. Currently, it’s easy for HR managers or business leaders of various organizations to find themselves managing a multigenerational workforce. Young graduates are joining a workforce with individuals aged 70 years and above. However, managing a workforce full of generational diversity requires a different approach. Each generation has grown up at specific times in history, and their perspectives on life and work differ widely. 

This article focuses on effective ways/tips to manage the five generations in the workplace. We also explore generational diversity and break down the five generations.  

What is Generational Diversity?

Generational diversity is having and including individuals of all generations in the workforce. In today’s world, generational diversity is becoming popular, whereby the workforce comprises five generations. 

Each generation holds different views and values that play a significant role in the workplace. As a result, individuals in the workplace get to share their diverse knowledge, i.e., it presents a learning opportunity. Additionally, generational diversity gives an organization direct insights into the different target audiences. 

Before we look into how to manage a multigenerational workforce, let’s briefly break down these generations. 

What are the 5 Generations in the Workforce? 

The five generations are as follows: 

  1. Traditionalists (1928-1945)
  2. Baby boomers (1946-1964)
  3. Generation X (1965-1980)
  4. Millennials (1981-1996)
  5. Generation Z (1997-2012)

1. Traditionalists 

It’s the oldest generation in the workforce, with people between 76 to 99 years old. It is also called the silent generation. Traditionalists grew without advanced technology and have overcome adverse economic conditions throughout their lifetime, such as the Great Depression, which shaped their financial habits. 

Often traditionalists value personal interactions; thus, in-person discussions are ideal for them in the workplace. More importantly, they value loyalty and relationships with coworkers. However, few traditionalists are actively employed in the workforce since most have retired. 

2. Baby Boomers 

Baby boomers are between the ages of 57 to 75 years old. Members of this generation have a strong work ethic and are goal oriented. Notably, they’re hardworking; thus, they’re often referred to as a workaholic generation. 

Baby boomers appreciate a structured work environment more than younger generations. Also, they prefer one-on-one communication and phone calls over email and instant messaging. Above all, baby boomers are pretty competitive in the workplace since they equate work and position with self-worth. 

3. Generation X 

Generation X is between 41 and 56 years old and is often referred to as a middle child. This generation is more educated than the previous two generations. Also, they’re hardworking, extremely independent, and self-sufficient and hate the idea of micromanagement. Notably, generation X brought about the concept of work-life balance in the workplace. 

Unlike the Traditionalists and Baby Boomers, Generation X is comfortable using technology. Nonetheless, they’re still satisfied with face-to-face interactions. Above all, they value flexibility. 

4. Millennials 

Millennials range from 26 to 40 years of age and are often called Generation Y. It’s the largest generation in the current workforce. Since Millennials grew up in an internet society, they prefer and are comfortable communicating digitally compared to other generations. 

Millennials tend to thrive on innovations and exciting work. They aim to work smarter (not harder like the baby boomers) with the help of technology. 

Like Gen X, Millennials desire a work-life balance and flexibility. Lastly, they’re independent and value feedback and meaningful motivation from employers. 

5. Generation Z

Generation Z is 25 years and below and makes the youngest generation in the current workforce. They’re more immersed in technology (digital natives) than all other generations; it’s the most tech-savvy group among the five generations. 

Gen Zers are creative and self-reliant but tend to be more actively engaged in their job, primarily when provided with the right technology. Notably, they look for stable opportunities (job security matters). More importantly, they like flexibility at work and prioritize social responsibility. 

Unlike other generations, Gen Z value higher pay. A study found that 58% of Gen Z workers were willing to work nights and weekends if it would help them attain a higher salary. Also, 67% of Gen Z job seekers said they would not mind relocating for a job opportunity. 

How to Effectively Manage Different Generations in the Workplace 

As you can tell from the above glance of the five generations in the workforce, they are diverse and unique in their ways. Therefore, it requires employers, HR managers, and team leaders to be cautious and understand the needs of each generation to manage them successfully. 

Below are tips for managing five generations of workers in a workplace: 

1. Identify the strengths of each generation 

Managers and leaders in an organization ought to realize that each generation has a unique strength that is essential in the workplace. Additionally, a combination of each generation’s strengths would significantly impact if they learned from each other. 

Therefore, managers can easily leverage those unique strengths through age-diverse collaboration and relationships among employees in the workplace. Also, it helps identify fundamental training and development opportunities that align with each generation’s strengths. Consequently, there will be increased productivity, better communication, and unity. 

2. Remove harmful stereotypes 

It’s unfair for HR managers or workplace leaders to judge individuals based on their generation. Stereotyping doesn’t only cause low morale among employees but is likely to create a toxic work environment. However, it‘s vital to recognize generational differences.

Therefore, employees of all generations should be given a chance to showcase their values without stereotyping them. It would help if employers create and cultivate a culture of inclusion where employees of all generations can express themselves freely and feel valued. 

3. Adapt the management styles for each generation

Each of the five generations believes in different values and has diverse perspectives on issues they experience in the workplace. Therefore, managers and leaders must embrace different management styles to suit each generation. 

Let’s briefly explore what each generation expects regarding management. Gen Zers prioritize a highly collaborative management relationship, while Millennials prioritize quality and result-based management. Further, Gen X prefers autonomy in doing their job, while baby boomers want structured management. 

Among the critical areas that require one to adapt change to align with each generation in the workplace include communication style, conflict resolution, measuring results, etc. Generally, employers need to find and customize their approach for each employee. 

More importantly, managers or leaders shouldn’t make decisions based on the value their generations believe in: there should be no bias. 

4. Create and support cross-generational mentoring 

Cross-generational mentoring is whereby all generations, from the youngest to the oldest, teach each other based on their strong skills. As a result, each generation will be familiar with different generations’ strengths, differences, and perspectives. More importantly, this approach creates a bridge over generation gaps in the workplace. 

Among other benefits of cross-generational mentoring is that it eliminates skill gaps in the workplace. 

5. Team up your 5 generations workforce 

As outlined above, each generation is unique in its way(s). However, that doesn’t mean the five generations are incompatible with working together. Managers should develop a team that includes all generations and encourage collaborative work.

It helps shift their mentality to see each as partners. More importantly, coworkers learn to tolerate each other, regardless of their generation. 

Final Thought 

The ideal way to manage a multigenerational workforce is to accept that there are different and unique ways. Therefore, managers or leaders must be flexible when dealing with such a diverse workforce. Also, understanding each generation’s strengths and skills would help you craft a practical approach to them in the workplace. As a result, you can easily create harmony among members of all generations in the workplace. 

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