5 Gens in 1 Workplace?

For the first time in history, workplaces may soon have five different generations working together.

Whether this is cohesive, happy and productive…

Or stressful, complicated and unbalanced…

Will largely be due to how you manage the different individuals and their individual requirements.

Let’s start off by defining the different generations.

That in itself is not an easy task. There’s no universal agreement on the names or exact birth dates (ranges vary by 5 or so years).

So if you’re reading different articles and seeing slightly different dates, no you are not going crazy!

Below is an indicative guide.

Born between:

  • 1946 and 1964 are our Baby Boomers (currently aged between 51-69)
  • 1965 and 1980 are our Gen Xers (currently aged between 35 – 50)
  • 1981 and 1994 are our Gen Y’s (or frequently referred to as our Millennials – currently aged between 21 – 35)
  • 1995 and 2009 are our Gen Z’s (currently aged between 6 – 20)
  • 2010+ are our Alpha Gen!

Now, how do we handle five different generations in one workplace? Or four or three generations as you may be experiencing now?

Do you remember the traditional golden people rule?

Treat people how you want to be treated

Well that is being challenged…

Now it’s all about: 

Treat people how they want to be treated 

So managers need to learn how to adapt their style to the individual (irrespective of their generation) in order to be successful.

Here are my top strategies to assist:

Strategies for Managing Multiple Generations

1. Drop stereotypes

Move beyond the labels and don’t stereotype behaviours (i.e. laziness or immaturity) with generations. Where possible provide a variety of choices and options for different individuals to consider.

2. Reciprocal mentoring

Facilitate reverse or reciprocal mentoring between different aged employees where both can teach each other things and support each other in the workplace.

3. Focus on results

Focus on results team members achieve rather than on how they get it done. Different generations may approach tasks in different ways.

4. Clear non-negotiables

Define your business non-negotiables clearly. Generally, our Gen Y and Zs don’t like rules, however if you have them – you need to clearly define them and ensure they are aligned with them.

5. Varied learning options

Accommodate different learning styles and options for training. Have a variety of more traditional learning tools (Powerpoint and face-to-face delivery) versus new-school learning tools (online learning and on the job/practical exercises).

6. Re-think meetings

Review your meeting structures. Only have meetings when there is a real need. Clearly define the objective and keep them quick, to the point and outcome focused. Even more so if you are using on-line meeting technology.

7. Multi-channel employee comms 

Use different and multiple communication channels to get important messages across (i.e. social media or intranets, texting and traditional email systems). Use this next time you’re recognising outstanding results or effort from a team member.

8. Be fast to praise

Reinforce positive behaviour and results regularly. In a world where feedback and likes are becoming instantaneous, ensure pats on the back (and also constructive feedback) are given quickly.

9. Diversify rewards

Have a range of reward and recognition options that speak to different motivators. Consider where your employees are in their lives, their needs and what motivates them to build your programs around a choice of options.

10. Limber up

Be flexible in accommodating employee needs when you can.

11. Hand over the mic

Have processes in place to give all employees a voice. Different perspectives and experiences can add significant value to your business.

12. Check in 

Study your employees. Listen and respond to their feedback quickly (particularly through surveys/ exit interviews). Use the Employee Pulse Check template for an easy way to do this.

13. Review employment policies

Review your policies in relation to multiple employment streams. Recent studies revealed that 72% of millennials would like to be their own boss and 30% of Australians are now undertaking some form of flexible freelance work. If Australia follows US trends, this number is expected to rise to 50% by 2020. Review how this may sit with your intellectual property and downtime in your organisation.

14. Know your vision

Be able to define your culture and have clear career planning and pathways in place. It’s no longer just the employer interviewing the employee. Employees want to know what type of culture and values you have and that you want to invest in their growth and development.

15. Agile work spaces

Review your working layouts (where you can). Space permitting, consider more agile styles. For example, section off different areas for more private working requirements, zones for collaboration, space for huddles or group meetings and so on. We are now seeing workplaces spend considerable time and resources designing requirements based on the different types of work assignments, learning requirements and behaviour preferences.

Wow, you made it.

Pat yourself on the back, because just by taking the time to read those 15 strategies you’re already ahead of the pack.

Nobody said it would be easy managing 5 difference generations. But it can be rewarding.

If you need help preparing your workplace for the extreme generational diversity coming, or you want to know more about the specific generational differences…

Give me a call.

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Any questions?

If you have questions on this topic or any others, feel free to reach me by email or set up a free one-on-one consultation session, or drop me a comment below.
Thanks for sharing!