How to Manage a Multi-Generational Workforce
Currently, there are five generations in the workplace, each with its own set of values, career outlooks and aspirations.
The generations in today’s workplace according to Purdue University are:
- Traditionalists (1925-1945) – 2% of the workforce
- Baby Boomers (1946-1964) – 25% of the workforce
- Generation X (1965-1980) – 33% of the workforce
- Generation Y/Millennials (1981-2000) – 35% of the workforce
- Generation Z (2011-2020) – 5% of the workforce
With these five different generations in play, employers are challenged with learning how to manage a multi-generational workforce. To do so, you have to truly understand your employees, their values and how they prefer to be managed.
Here are tips to help you learn how to accommodate a multi-generational workforce so that your employees are understood, inspired and satisfied in their roles.
- Assess your management style
A one-size-fits-all approach will not work in this situation. Reflect on your current management style and how it might impact all the generations that work for you. Then, acclimate to the specific needs of your team. If you’re unsure of how they want to be managed, just ask. Send out an anonymous survey so that they can leave transparent feedback. This will allow them to share their needs as employees, and it’ll help you understand how you can best lead your team.
- Be leery of stereotypes
As with any generation, stereotypes are aplenty. While there may be some validity to them, never rely on stereotypes as a source of truth. While generational differences and experiences can add to the strength of your team, it’s best to get to know each of your employees as individuals, not as part of their generation.
- Encourage flexible communication
Each generation has its own communication preferences. Be aware of how your employees like to be communicated with, whether it’s via in-person conversation, email, phone call, text and/or instant message. If you’re unsure, ask your team how they’d like to receive information; this can also be done via a survey. Doing so will allow you to reach your employees quickly and efficiently.
- Learn from each other
Having a multi-generational workforce allows your employees to bring their separate life experiences, worldviews, values and talent to the table. This presents a unique learning opportunity for you as a manager and for your employees individually. Lead with the mindset that everyone can learn something from someone.
Encourage mentorships within your company. Generally, mentorships are comprised of a mentor, one who has more experience in the workforce, and a mentee, one who is newer to the workforce or line of business. While this traditional sense of mentorship is advantageous, you can also foster the reverse, where a newer employee teaches and mentors someone who’s a veteran in the field.
Having different types of mentorships can help broaden your team’s knowledge and expose them to learning opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten.
- Host company gatherings
Hosting company gatherings presents the chance for your team to get together outside of work. This helps your employees get to know one another, especially those they don’t directly work with. Gatherings like this can also boost morale and show your team they’re valued and appreciated.
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