Now more than ever, workplaces are becoming a multi-generational environment. Workers are retiring at a later age than ever before. Because of this, many office managers are dealing with the unique challenge of managing different generations as one cohesive team. Each generation has unique values, strengths, weaknesses, needs and attitudes that can cause conflict and misunderstanding in the workplace on a daily basis.
The Generation Gap
The current working generations in the workforce are composed of Baby Boomers (44.6 Million), Gen X’s (52.7 Million), and Millennials (53.5 Million, 1 in every 3 workers in the workplace is a Millennial). 75% of managers agree that managing multi-generational teams is a challenge. In order for managers to promote an environment of collaboration and to avoid conflict, it is important for them to understand how different generations see themselves and each other.
Generational Differences at Work
A recent study conducted by a software company called Workfront, found that the three generations express conflicting opinions of themselves and each other that often cause issues in the workplace. A few of the interesting takeaways from the study are as follows:
- Each generation tends to rate themselves more positively than do the other generations.
- Millennials are rated as the most creative and tech-savvy, yet the least cooperative/team players, and also the least likely to take responsibility as well as being the biggest complainers.
- Gen Xers are the most revered workers, they get the highest ratings for hard word, productivity, skill, troubleshooting/problem-solving, and friendliness/helpfulness.
- Baby Boomers are rated the highest for strongest work ethic, but also being the biggest roadblocks in the workplace.
Let’s take a look at a few tips for managers on increasing productivity with each generation.
One way managers can increase productivity from Millennials is to decrease cell phone use. Guidelines that are fair to the company and its workers are important when it comes to cell phones. 10% of millennials believe it’s “generally ok” to use cell phones during meetings, compared to 3% in Gen X in and Baby Boomer Generations. Instead of banning call phones all together, ban them from meetings, brainstorm sessions and group training.
Another way for managers to increase productivity from Millennials is to boost confidence with learning opportunities. Build confidence in younger employees by inquiring about their long-term career goals and offering learning opportunities. 61% of Millennials reported having a mentor and over 94% said they receive good advice from said mentor.
Managers should let Gen X’s productivity levels grow by providing them opportunities to excel outside of their normal job tasks. An example of this is by letting them manage or new project or by assisting with a big client proposal. 68% of Gen X’s believe they are the best problem solvers in the workplace, so be sure to use that to your business’s advantage and let them excel at what they do best.
Only 32% of Gen X’s describe their generation as being the most tech-savvy. Managers should find out what technology they are struggling with and offer to provide training. eLearning can help to boost a company’s productivity level by over 50%.
Baby Boomers view their generation as the friendliest and most helping in the workplace. Encourage baby boomers to get involved with a mentor program in the workplace. Mentor programs are an effective way to increase employee communication and understanding of each other’s individual roles with the company. This is a great way for older workers with experience to help to share their expertise and knowledge with younger generations in the workplace.
Today’s managers need to do more than just bridge the generation gap in the workplace. It is their responsibility to help generations blend, rather than meet in the middle. Creating team-building opportunities that foster the unique strengths of each generation will help to create harmony and productivity in the workplace. To learn more about effectively managing a multi-generational workforce, check out this comprehensive infographic from the faculty at MidAmerica Nazarene University.