Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Making the Most of a Multigenerational Workplace

In today’s workforce, there are many angles to diversity. One area of particular interest is the multigenerational gap. Such diversity can be beneficial to organizations, and also challenging for any HR Representative to handle. In this issue of Astronology we examine the topic of multigenerational staffing.

In its section on generation-gap staffing, the Department of Defense website notes, “Just as financial experts tout portfolio diversity as a hedge again economic uncertainty, generational diversity is important to sustain stability and stimulate innovation in a multi-functional workplace.” Any group of employees has its strengths and weakness.  However, some of their concerns will certainly be different.  It is important that all employees feel valued by and included in the organization. These feelings will encourage employees to feel welcomed to share their perspectives, making teamwork easier.

What are the Concerns of the Generations?

Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennials. Each of these groups has defining moments that have shaped their views of the world and their values in the workforce. The chart below explains:

Baby Boomers
Generation X
Generation Y
Shared Defining Events in Life
·   Berlin Wall existence
·   JFK, MLK, and RFK Assassinations
·   Watergate
·   Vietnam
·     Falling of the Berlin Wall
·     Challenger Disaster
·     OJ Simpson Trial
·     First Gulf War
·     Terrorism Attacks on American Grounds
·     Global War on Terrorism
·     High School / College Shootings
·     Corporate Scandals

Key Values
·   Fulfillment
·   Indulgence
·   Balance
·   Equality

·     Freedom
·     Reality
·     Self-Reliance
·     Work / Life Balance
·     Diversity
·     Flexibility
·     Empowerment
·     Service-Oriented

Employers should avoid keeping stereotypical views of workers strongly alive in the workplace.  Instead, what do you do to enhance the best in your employees, while keeping in mind the background to each generation? Three simple steps can assist in achieving this goal:

  1. Open Communication: Make employees feel as though their opinions and perspectives truly matter. When change occurs within the organization, make sure all are aware. Encourage employees to communicate with each other in order to bridge the gap between different generations.
  2. Active Interaction between Managers and Employees: Managers should be able to communicate to employees that they view their dedication to work as valuable. Provide different assignments that challenge while maintaining individual interests. For example, Generation Y employees are notoriously known for their quick grasp of technological advances. If your organization is looking to expand or find creative solutions that involve forward moving with technology, why not involve Gen Y employees in team meetings? This will allow them to feel involved in subject matter they may find interesting, while allowing current leaders from other generations to identify where they can possibly nurture the employee. 
  3. Continual Review of Employee Satisfaction: Under30CEO.com remarked that: “85% of the workforce wants to be provided the opportunity to continually improve and grow. This is not new. The difference today: If employees are not learning and growing, they are leaving.”   So how do you ensure that your employees feel like they are growing and learning? Quite simply…ASK them. Some employers feel the annual review is the perfect time to find out how an employee feels about his / her work achievements and progress. Others find creating an employee survey and conducting it at a separate time from the annual review works best. Still others create an environment where employee engagement is so high that employees feel comfortable speaking up at any point when they feel like they aren’t being challenged enough.

Overall, as long as employees are happy and feel accomplished at work – irrespective of their generation – they will continue to give their best to their organizations.  A multigenerational workforce can bring great success to any organization when employees receive active communication and recognition.  Astronology has a question for you, however.  What challenges do you see in your organization with multigenerational workers? What are you doing to overcome these challenges?  We look forward to hearing your stories and insights!  Please share them with us today!

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