There’s never been a deficit of opinions in the workplace. But these opinions are becoming more pronounced, and they often involve colleagues of different generations.
This generational gap, when not addressed, can lead to a rift within your workforce that will wreak havoc on employee satisfaction, engagement, and productivity. But managing a multigenerational workplace isn’t an exact science. It’s more of an art that takes finesse, and the following can often help bridge the divide:
1. Start with mutual goals.
Remind everyone on your team that you’re all working toward a common goal. No one is standing in the way of achieving it. Instead, we all have different ways of approaching the task at hand. If someone is uncertain of a colleague’s motives, don’t go silent. Ask — and ask without judgment or preconceived notions.
2. Encourage people to share ideas.
Everyone comes to the table with his or her own unique strengths and weaknesses. Set an expectation for team members to teach and learn from one another. When faced with an obstacle, a Baby Boomer, for example, can share experience, while the Millennial may provide a more tech-driven perspective.
3. Support collaboration.
Never separate generations. It’ll do nothing more than widen the divide. Rather, create an environment where people feel like they are part of a community, and that each person has a critical role in building something that wouldn’t otherwise be possible alone. People want to contribute to something bigger than themselves.
4. Recognize individual achievements.
Many companies use a “one-size-fits-all” recognition program, but this approach doesn’t work even for employees of all the same age. Get to know what motivates your team on an individual basis to determine what will resonate best when recognizing their contributions and achievements.
You may find that one person appreciates opportunities for professional development, while another may respond to recognition based on experience. Others on your team may welcome spot bonuses, where you give a small sum of money for their attention to detail, quick thinking, or saving the company from losing a long-time client.
It all comes down to understanding what’s important to each generation, and then being sensitive to their needs. The ultimate goal should be to capitalize on employee strengths, not highlight their shortcomings. The responsibility rests on leadership’s shoulders to do just that, but your company will enjoy greater employee engagement and productivity — which isn’t only of benefit to you but your employees.
If you’re looking to partner with a staffing agency, now’s the time to learn more about Staffmark. For more than 40 years, our team has been matching skilled talent with employers in a variety of different industries. All it takes is a call!