The Key to Understanding (And Navigating) Generational Differences

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Today, there are five generations participating in the workforce. The youngest members of the Silent Generation are 75, and some are still working today. Generation Z, the newest working-age generation, is also beginning to make its entrance into companies across all industries. As a result, the workplace is becoming increasingly complex and, without the proper understanding of generational differences, harder to navigate.

Understanding and Navigating Generational Differences

With so many age groups existing in the workforce, understanding generational differences is a must. Otherwise, you may struggle to handle interactions in the best possible way or could experience misunderstandings based on varying perspectives. Both of these scenarios can hinder productivity and harm morale, so learning how generations can support each other is increasingly important.

Learn the Defining Characteristics of Each Generation

While workers of any generation can be productive and highly skilled, each one has its own set of preferences and priorities. Baby Boomers value long-term job security and in-person interactions. Millennials seek out flexibility and are the first digital natives, often relying on technology for communication.

By acknowledging the preferences associated with each generation, navigating the workplace becomes easier. For example, you can adjust your communication approach based on how each employee would rather engage in discussions or create platforms that support multiple options, such as unified communications solutions that link text, voice and video based approaches.

Make Adaptability Part of Your Company Culture

In order to successfully work with a multigenerational workforce, adaptability needs to be a core tenant within the company’s workplace. Requiring everyone to fit the same mold is not going to be effective, including in critical areas like communication, feedback and professional development. If you do try to force a single path, not everyone will fit into that paradigm. This can result in anything from frustration and anger to higher turnover.

Ultimately, businesses need to see the value of flexibility. Make sure opportunities and approaches are varied or provide space for each employee to select an option that aligns with their skills and preferences. If a standard is necessary, choose the one that is more universally accepted, effectively finding a reasonable middle ground for everyone involved.

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