How to Integrate Generational Differences in the Workplace

Our current workforce is made up of employees with a wide array of ages, thus creating a multi-generational workforce.

“Seek to understand your team, your co-workers and the project or initiative that your all working on. You can only control yourself, so try a different approach to get a different outcome!” says Sharon Tsao, CMO of Contemporary Staffing Solutions.

To be specific, the workforce is composed of five different generations: The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Gen Z. These generations all have notable events that took place in their respective time frames that impacted the people who grew up during this time.

  • The Silent Generation (1928 – 1945) grew up during/in the aftermath of WWII and the Great Depression. They saw the moon landing, fought in the Korean War, and started the Civil Rights movement.
  • Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964) were born in a prosperous post-war era. They fought in the Vietnam War, lived through the Cold War, and witnessed the assassination of multiple political leaders (John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.).
  • Generation X (1965 to early 1980s) were known as the “latchkey generation,” growing up in a time where both parents worked, and divorce rates were on the rise. They saw the Berlin Wall fall and watched punk rock music videos on MTV.
  • Millennials (early 1980s to mid-1990s) witnessed the events of 9/11, fought in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, were introduced to the internet, and lived through the Great Recession.
  • Gen Z (mid 1990s to 2010s) grew up in the aftermath of 9/11, not knowing of a world without high security. They’re the first generation to not know a life before the internet and social media. They now are enveloped by climate disaster and a lack of trust in government leaders.

“It is important to know the significant happenings that have taken place during a person’s time in order to better understand their experience, perspective, and even skills. In the workplace, by better understanding a coworker, employee, or boss, you can develop a better working relationship with this person and have a more productive team,” says Steve Scovner, Account Executive at Contemporary Staffing Solutions.

What about stereotypes?

Understanding a group of people’s shared experiences is different than making rash generalizations about people based off their birthdate. When working with or in a multi-generational workplace, it’s best to put any biases to the side.

For instance, if you are a Millennial and are on a team with a Baby Boomer, you could get frustrated if you tried to show them something on the computer that they couldn’t understand. It’s important to take a step back and realize that given your generation, you are much more familiar with the technology, and that just because they aren’t as familiar as you does not mean they don’t have the capacity and willingness to learn it.

Employees generally want the same things

Despite the different set of circumstances, one may have grown up with, studies have shown that many employees want the same things. Regardless of age/generation, employees have reported wanting these things from their employer:

  • Clear goals
  • Feedback
  • Work-life balance
  • Good leaders

How to bridge differences

Since it turns out that we might not all be as different as we may think, the best way to overcome any biases is for people to get to know each other. This can be achieved through offsite workshops, happy hours, and, perhaps the most effective, multi-generational teams. Creating teams with people of different skillsets and varying levels of expertise can be incredibly beneficial. By uniting employees with a common goal and objective, they must assist and learn from each other to complete their project.

Looking for your next hire and want more diversity and inclusion on your team?  CSS does not discriminate, and we can provide you with three great candidates of all different generations so you can have options and make the best choice.  Call today and partner with one of our wonderful recruiters to help you in your job search!

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Contemporary Staffing connects job seekers to hiring managers nationally in the following professions: Accounting & FinanceCall Center & OfficeHuman ResourcesITSalesforce, and Sales & Marketing.