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Ages 17-70 – How to Manage 5 Generations Working Side By Side

Author: Clare Thompson

Published date: 2019/10

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Global life expectancy has improved, allowing healthy individuals to delay their retirements which means for the first time in contemporary history, there are five generations working side by side; traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and the first of generation Z -  all jostling for success in the workplace.

The workplace is incredibly diverse, with employees ranging in age from their late teens to their 70s. Diversity can certainly provide benefits in terms of the unique backgrounds and different perspectives, but if not managed effectively it can also lead to misunderstandings and conflict. Businesses must tailor management styles to this multi-generational workforce. Management techniques that worked 10 years ago are no longer viable if you want to keep your staff performing at their best whilst also ensuring satisfaction amongst employees.

You can’t please everyone all the time but here are some tips to help you try;

What is your 'why?'

Try to find out what is the reason the employees get up in the morning to come to work and find a way to implement it. Older generations, for example, value accomplishing career goals, while millennials prize community-like workplaces. Tailoring specific reasons to come to work and what drives each generations’ motivations and satisfaction will help to see your employees performing to their full potential.

Fancy a drink?

We can understand and appreciate others better when we are given the opportunity to get to know them. Creating opportunities for employees of different generations to interact in both work and non-work-related settings can help to build relationships and minimize misunderstandings. These connections help to build healthy workplace relationships leading to collaborative and effective work teams.

Are we that different?

Don’t make assumptions. It’s important to remember that employees, regardless of generation, share both commonalities and differences. Be alert to language that perpetuates stereotypes: “All (insert generation) are …,” or “My generation is ….”. This will avoid the divide that can be created when stereotypes and assumptions are made in the workplace.

How can we help?

Flexibility means different things to everyone - Older workers who are approaching their retirement could appreciate the benefits of part-time work. Younger people are motivated more by the ability to work flexible hours. Even though flexibility can be utilised in different forms by different people it is important that you are providing flexibility to all staff, no matter their generation.

Managing an age-diverse workplace can raise challenges for managers however, collaborating and working in an age-diverse workplace leads to innovation and business success. Fundamentally, understanding and respecting the work styles and values of each generation will go a long way towards building more harmonious working relationships.

Clare is a Consultant in our Architecture team, Clare has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the property market and is now dedicating her skills to growing our Architecture team. Connect with Clare on LinkedIn here!