One of the factors that make an organization diverse is age. Your employees come from different generations—such as Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zs. And this difference can be a source of conflict for your organization. After all, each generation group generally have their unique experiences from their times that influence their beliefs, values, and even work priorities. Managing these people can’t be done in a one-size-fits-all style. The key to managing a multi-generational workforce? Communication.
The Importance of Communication in Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce
While each person is unique, there’s no denying how their experiences during certain times can affect who they are, how they act, and what they prioritize at work. For example, dubbed “digital natives” Gen Z will definitely be more versed in using technology in their work and prefer them. Some members of this generation may prefer to work with companies that are more digital or more adapted to technology. Older generations, on the other hand, may find themselves struggling with using these tools and prefer more traditional methods of doing their tasks.
At the same time, because of the difference, there are a lot of stereotypes for each generation. Such as Baby Boomers being workaholics, Gen Xers being cynical, Millennials being self-serving, and Gen Z being technology dependent. These stereotypes cause a rift between your employees because of bias and assumptions. The difference in age also makes it harder for them to approach each other.
How can you combat this barrier? The answer: communication.
4 Tips for Using Communication in Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce
A lot of conflicts and organizational problems stem from poor communication and feedback. A simple problem can blow up just because of a wrong word or interpretation. And with people from different generations, where the difference in views can hinder their collaboration, communication is even more important. Here are some tips on how to use communication in managing a multi-generational workforce!
Avoid stereotyping and biases (conscious or unconscious)
As mentioned earlier, biases and stereotypes can become a barrier when it comes to your multi-generational workforce. It’s important that you work to eliminate or challenge them. Encourage your workforce to move past labels, and treat each other as individuals with unique experiences, preferences, and interests. It would also be good if you could have your employees assess stereotypes and how it can affect their views of their colleagues. Awareness goes a long way in combatting and challenging these problems.
Make communication more personal
People have different types of communication they’re more comfortable with. Some can articulate their thoughts better when writing, while some orally. Still, it may be productive for your employees to have a quick conversation versus email or chat. Some of the contexts may be lost or misinterpreted during writing versus delivering the message face-to-face. This can be because of the lack of body language and other non-verbal cues that can support the real intent of the message. At the same time, conversations, when done effectively, can be faster than waiting for a response via written communication.
Be more open and inclusive
Having the participation of everybody in the workplace as well as a supportive environment is essential for effective communication. Strive to have more open and inclusive communication in your company. You can do this by acknowledging the importance of your employees’ views, listening to each side actively, and engaging them. Your HR can also help by implementing the best practices for your company’s internal communication.
Maintain respect at all times
In a study, AchieveGlobal found that “respect from peers, superiors, and direct reports is the top-rated workplace need of all generational groups”. Note that it says that it’s a top-rated workplace need. No matter which generation your employee is, they need the respect of the people in the company. Your culture plays an important role in this. After all, your culture is the reflection of your company’s values and beliefs. Always encourage your employees to treat each other with courtesy, politeness, and kindness, even during conflict. Training your employees to be more emotionally intelligent can also help with this since they’ll be learning more about how to be self-aware, be empathetic, genuine, expansive, resilient, and empowering.
Diversity can be your organization’s strength—if managed effectively. This also applies to your multi-generational employees. While their differences can be a source of conflict, it can also be your greatest resource of knowledge. A certain generation’s shortcoming can be another generation’s strength. Just make sure that you don’t get crazy managing them! And in that aspect, communication is your friend.