Large, thriving workforces today have one big thing in common: diversity. This diversity spans talents, experience, ideas... and age.
With the many age groups and generational perspectives existing in business today, it can be hard to bring everyone together onto the same page. To keep up with this diversity organisations must learn how to bridge the divide and get the best out of their teams.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the significance of generational traits at work, and how to find a happy medium between serving each age cohort and integrating them on the job for best results.
Why an understanding of generational differences is important
According to recent research there will be five generations (from oldest to youngest: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, and Generations X, Y, and Z) working together by the year 2020, as more and more older workers put retirement on hold.
As of right now, most of the workforce is made up of Millennials. You've probably heard the stereotypes about them being entitled and tech-obsessed, however, these are quickly proving to be false.
The takeaway? To stay relevant, companies will need to tap into what makes each generation tick if they want to attract and retain top talent at any age. It’s tempting to think this simply means creating a youth-friendly environment. But it’s just as important, if not more, to embrace and engage all generations at work.
Only by serving the collective can you lay the foundation for great inter-generational teamwork and your employees’ personal fulfilment.
Reasons for differing workplace values
Every age cohort has its own broad outlook on life. With that comes typical expectations for the everyday work experience and generational preferences in everything from communication style to degrees of responsibility within job roles.
This makes sense, because each cohort is joined together by a common era, under similar social conditions and similar demands from the world around them.
For example, Traditionalists came of age at a time when personal technologies were limited and the social order was not to be ruffled. That hugely contrasts with Millennials and Generation Z, who have constant access to social media, are globally conscious and expect new experiences and advancement opportunities as a part of life.
So, this all presents some challenges for the organisation wishing to maintain harmony and collaboration among age groups.
The first key is to think of no group in isolation. The temptation might be to just keep close-in-age employees grouped together, but not all people of a certain cohort think alike. On the individual level, personality assessment is a much more reliable way of predicting behaviour and team success.
Second, it’s crucial to bring people of various groups together. That might mean pairing recent university graduates with senior-level managers that have 20+ years of experience. Different cohorts have a lot to gain from each other: younger workers may bring social media savvy, while older leaders might have decades of industry wisdom to impart.
“The mix of age groups absolutely matters. But it’s the underlying strength of your workforce — in terms of competent leadership, the ability to attract and retain great employees, and a healthy collaborative culture — that really determines success,” - Helen Horn, Winsborough’s Leadership Development Director.
“On that note, Winsborough have several approaches for helping our multi-generational clients flourish.”
“We often start with the Hogan Assessments, a series of psychometric tools looking at individual personality, in order to predict employee fit and team readiness regardless of age.”
“We also offer a series of programmes focussed on developing company leadership and building better organisational frameworks, so you’re more apt to recognise and navigate generational quirks and needs,” she says.
This could mean a mix of executive coaching, consultations with context-specific scenarios and team-building programmes designed around the unique makeup of your company.
The result? You’ll be better able to relate to each age cohort in your workforce. You’ll be more in touch with their self-contained core values and you’ll be able to integrate them to the satisfaction and betterment of your employees... whether they’re young and upwardly-mobile, or seasoned veterans within your space.
Looking to improve how employees of various ages fit within your culture and work together? Winsborough are here to help — get in touch with us today