Thriving in a Multigenerational Workplace
As the years go by, so do workplace certainties. Gone are the days of getting a job right out of high school and working there for 40 years before you’re given a party and a gold watch and sent off to live off your pension and IRA. Whether it’s for financial reasons, or to fulfill a desire to remain productive, workers are remaining employed way past the “traditional” retirement age.
According to Business Insider.com, U.S. census statistics report that as of February 2019, about 20% of Americans over age 65 — a total of 10.6 million people — were either working or looking for work. This information, plus the fact that many Americans are starting work and careers earlier, resulted in today’s multigenerational workplace—and the conflicts that may come with it. From work ethic to biases and technological know-how, the large age range of the workforce can ruffle some feathers—but it can also result in amazing successes.
Here’s a list of ways workers today can tackle the multigenerational workplace:
Break down generational stereotypes. Understanding the work styles of other age groups, but not leaning on stereotypes, leads to respectful attitudes. For example, those in the workforce for many generations may prefer to communicate ideas face-to-face in a meeting—but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re adverse to learning how to video conference. On the other hand, many young workers are well-versed in technology and the nuances of computer sciences—but that doesn’t mean every 18-year-old is glued to their phone and unwilling to make meaningful interpersonal connections. Knowing stereotypes about each generation’s work style can be helpful, but don’t allow it to cloud your opinion on others. Each worker is unique.
Learn from each other. While older workers can pass along their years of knowledge and experience as well as business contacts, younger workers can often share their experience with the latest tech, trends, and social media channels. All workers, regardless of age, have a story to tell and experience that matters.
Fill in communication gaps. Different generations often have different preferred communications methods, whether that means face-to-face meetings, video-chats, email, or instant messaging. If your office is using a method of communication that you’re not comfortable with, reach out to your co-workers to get their insight and training. If the communication method isn’t allowing you to do your best work, let your manager know and give suggestions on how to bridge communication gaps through multiple channels to come to a positive conclusion for everyone in the office.
Respect each other. In creating a harmonious work environment, it all comes down to mutual respect. The key to establishing respect among generations is knowing that while a coworker’s motivation, work-style, and experience is different than yours, their thoughts and ideas are just as valid as yours. Listen to each other and combine each of your unique skills to come up with the best solution in each workplace situation.
It takes effort on everyone’s part to create balance in a multigenerational workplace. Take it from Community Financial, having many diverse ages in the workplace breeds innovation and advanced customer service. Teamwork makes the dream work!
Your turn: What are your favorite things about working in a multigenerational workplace? Tell us about it in the comments!
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