Generational divide in the workplace

Generational divide in the workplace


Generation divide

A generation is defined as a large group of people who were born around the same time period and also share common significant life events and trends.

Presently in the UK, the four generations in the workforce are –

  • Baby Boomers – born 1947-to-1964.This generation grew up in a time of economic prosperity and they were the first to give a higher priority to work over private life. They prefer human touch over technology. They are optimistic, competitive, and workaholics.
  • Generation X – born 1965-to-1980. This generation doesn’t live to work, as their predecessors, and they put a lot of emphasis on work-life balance. They are independent, work well when challenged, flexible, and adaptable.
  • Millennials – born 1981-to-2000. This generation relies heavily on technology. They are the most educated generation of employees in our time. They are adaptable, flexible and ambitious.
  • Generation Z – born 2001-to-2020. This generation, also known as post-millennials, are a new workforce, which is even more tech-savvy and multicultural than millennials. They are eager to earn money and change the world.

The amount of technological development that has happened between the birth of the first traditionalists and Gen Z is so vast that it has created two completely different life experiences.

Millennials and Gen Z have never known a world without a computer in the workplace, whilst for Baby Boomers a computer in the workplace wasn’t commonplace.

By 2025, Millennials Will Make-up 75% of the Global Workforce.

Is there a generation gap when it comes to returning to the office?

Older colleagues generally value going back to the office over working from home. Many Boomers and a large percent of Gen Xers value the connections that are made in person.

Millennials, though, having grown up with technology feel it can be used to make remote working more smoothly and efficient.

Besides the discrepancies in the digital learning curve, younger workers find the autonomy and freedom offered by remote work meshes well with their preferred lifestyle.

Bridging the Generational Divide in the Workplace

The different outlooks, attitudes, and behaviours amongst the various generations of workers can sometimes lead to conflicts that limit collaboration, lead to emotional issues, lower team performance, and contribute to employee turnover.

Many companies are trying to improve their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, but only a small percent include age as part of their DEI strategy. The few organisations that do address age, many encourage those of different generations to focus on their similarities or to deny the reality of their differences altogether.

Boomers and Millennials have distinct differences in how they act and how they want to be regarded in the workplace. These differences are potentially problematic to your business, particularly when leaders aren’t prepared to make the most of the talent and innovation the young employees bring.

Strategies that move managers, supervisors and executives away from being simply directors to become people developers, coaches, motivators and listeners will serve in providing the collaborative culture Millennials crave.

Four ways to create cross-generation collaboration.

  • Recruit a cross-generational teamto solve a problem together and have them share the process they used to involve everyone in the group.
  • Set aside times for co-mentoring.Ask older and younger employees what they want to learn from each other. Provide a way for people of different ages to ask each other questions about their experiences and reasons for their perspectives.
  • Get volunteers for two or three cross-generation innovation groups.Each group will develop and build a prototype of a breakthrough product or service that can appeal to people of different ages.
  • Personalise your management style. Don’t view your management style as a one size fits all approach. Get to know your employees, what motivates them, what kind of feedback they respond to and tailor your approach accordingly. Different things resonate with different generations and your employees will appreciate you taking the time and effort to realise that.

While managing a generationally diverse workforce has its challenges, it’s also a great opportunity to leverage the different skills, experiences, and perspectives of these individuals.

Creating an inclusive and accepting workplace regardless of their age is the key to attracting and retaining quality talent well into the future.

If you would like further information on this subject please give us a call.

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