The workplace has changed substantially over the last several decades as the role of technology has grown and retirement age has risen. Today, there are few companies that don’t have a wide range of employees, from new Gen Z grads to Baby Boomers with decades of experience. This kind of workplace certainly has its advantages, from new and innovative ideas to a wealth of expertise. However, managing a multigenerational workplace isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds.
Generations are defined not just by birth year but by cultural expectations and norms. Experiences of those born in the 1950s and 1960s are very different from those born in the 1990s and 2000s. As such, effectively managing a workforce that spans multiple generations can take proper planning to get right. These tips can ensure effective, employee-focused management of a multigenerational team.
Encourage Open Communication
For many younger employees, the ability to exchange ideas and speak openly is a priority in the workplace. Instead of keeping to the status quo or leaving employees in the dark about the way a company operates, encourage open communication among teams as well as with leadership. When all employees have an opportunity to share feedback and propose new ideas and practices, everyone wins.
Many members of the younger generations, particular Millennials and Gen Z, favor the idea of a flexible workplace. With the pandemic and a subsequent overall shift to remote working, this has only grown more pronounced. To keep employees happy, consider offering more flexibility in scheduling. This can mean offering flex schedules in environments where butts in seats from nine to five is less important, or giving employees the opportunity to work from home from time to time. When rigid timekeeping isn’t necessary, loosening the reins can appeal to everyone.
Listen to Group Needs
People of different ages and experiences have different needs in the workforce. For example, Gen Zers may want to work full-time from home or favor a less rigid office setup, while Baby Boomers may feel more comfortable in a traditional office setting with assigned seating. As such, it’s important to create policies cater to as many people as possible without leaving one demographic out in the cold.
Rather than switching to some sort of concept that seems trendy on the surface – hot desking or hotel seating in particular is a concept most employees of all generations dislike, even though employers often believe otherwise – talk to employees directly to discuss needs as a group. This can mean allowing some employees to work remotely while still providing office space for those who want a more traditional experience.
Check In Regularly
Feedback may not be expected by those who have been in the workforce for a long time, but younger generations have made it clear that regular feedback is a must-have at work. Instead of sticking to old and potentially outdated norms, implement feedback policies that benefit both younger workers and older workers alike.
Feedback, provided it’s constructive and offered with good intentions, can be a benefit for everyone, regardless of age. Keeping employees in the loop can ensure problems are caught early, employees know what is expected of them, and positive behavior is encouraged.
Stay Away from Stereotypes
Generations often find themselves boxed in by stereotypes, whether true or not. Millennials, for example, are often categorized as lazy and entitled, but employers have learned that many Millennials have great work ethics and are eager to learn and grow. This has led to office trends like buying foosball tables and bean bag chairs so Millennials can relax at work, when research shows that this kind of perk isn’t appealing enough to draw in top talent. Instead, meet your employees where they are. Observe their behavior, ask their opinions, and make management decisions based on your team as individuals rather than the stereotypes associated with their generations.
Working with a team of employees that spans generations may require some tweaks to management practices, but this can easily lead to changes for the better. By keeping communication lines open, listening to employee needs, and implementing procedures that can benefit as many people as possible, it’s possible to create a happy, healthy environment that appeals to workers of all ages.