How to Create and Manage a Multi-Generational Workforce

An age-diverse team can be a game-changer for any organization. Read on to learn the benefits and how you can build an effective multi-generational workforce.

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How to Create and Manage a Multi-Generational Workforce

Here's what you need to know:

  • One of the most important aspects of building a diverse workforce is recognizing the value of multiple generations
  • When various generations come together in a workplace, they bring different experiences and skills, resulting in tremendous opportunities for growth and innovation
  • Every generation has something valuable to offer
  • To ensure a successful multi-generational workforce, educate your team, overcome stereotypes, and establish trust and accountability
  • Accommodate diverse working styles and encourage regular feedback from staff members

Inclusivity is a hot topic in the HR world. Today, many organizations are keen on building a diverse workforce that gives employees opportunities without bias. Those succeeding are becoming more attractive to top talent and outperforming their competitors.

The research findings below clearly show the power of a diverse workplace.

  • According to a Boston Consulting Group study, organizations with more diverse management teams achieve 19% higher revenues due to innovation.
  • According to a Fundera study, diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture and penetrate new markets faster than the competition.
  • Glassdoor’s 2020 Diversity Hiring Survey revealed that 76% of job seekers and employees prioritize diversity when evaluating employers.

One of the most important aspects of building a diverse workforce is recognizing the value of multiple generations.

When various generations come together in a workplace, they bring different experiences and skills, resulting in tremendous opportunities for growth and innovation.

So, if you are looking to make your workforce more age-diverse, you are doing what is right for your business. Read on to learn what a multi-generational workforce entails and how you can build and manage one effectively.

What is a multi-generational workforce?

The modern-day workforce is more age-diverse than ever. Thanks to an aging population and an increasing retirement age, today’s workforce now consists of 5 generations:

  • The Silent Generation (born 1928-1945)
  • Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
  • Generation X (1965-1980)
  • Millennials (1981-1996), and
  • Generation Z (1997-2012).

Each generation in the workplace has unique traits that define how they work and interact with other generations. For instance, Baby Boomers are likelier to be loyal and hardworking, while Millennials are more tech-savvy and independent.

Meanwhile, Gen Zers tend to be driven by a higher cause, and many would choose a lower salary if it meant doing meaningful work.

Regardless of these differences, every generation has something valuable to offer.

What are the benefits of a multi-generational staff?

Companies with an age-diverse workforce get the best of both worlds. On one hand, younger employees are more familiar with constantly-changing technology and how to work with those changes.

By collaborating fresh innovation with experienced wisdom, businesses can create a powerful dynamic that sets them apart from their competitors.

On the other hand, older employees have years of experience that can inform sound decision-making. By collaborating fresh innovation with experienced wisdom, businesses can create a powerful dynamic that sets them apart from their competitors.

Below are 5 compelling benefits of a multi-generational workforce.

  • A large talent pool: A diverse age range of candidates means access to more talent, making it easier to find people with the right skill set.
  • Increased innovation: When different generations come together, they draw on their experiences and perspectives to generate creative ideas, solutions, and products.
  • Enhanced productivity: Employees of diverse ages bring varied skills to the table. Productivity and output increase when everyone feels appreciated and works together toward a common goal.
  • Improved communication with the target audience: Different generations have varying levels of comfort regarding technology and communication methods. With an age-diverse workforce, companies can learn how to communicate effectively with various age groups and better appeal to their target audiences.
  • Better employee retention: Companies that appreciate the value of multi-generational workforces are more likely to retain employees. Older team members that still feel appreciated will stay productive and motivated for longer. Meanwhile, younger employees will stay on because of the mentorship opportunities they get from an age-diverse team and the comfort of knowing the company will retain and support them as they age.

Tips for creating and managing a multi-generational workforce

Although a multi-generational workforce can unlock tremendous value, managing it can be challenging. Here are 3 common problems that many age-diverse companies face.

  • Technology gaps: The tech-savvy nature of younger generations often alienates older, more traditional employees.
  • Communication issues: Companies that implement communication tools and methods without considering all generations’ needs and comfort levels suffer from frequent misinformation and communication breakdowns.
  • Conflicting goals, motivations, and work ethics: Different age groups may have varying career aspirations, motivations, work attitudes, and preferences. These differences often lead to conflicts between team members when not managed correctly.

As the global workforce increasingly spans generations, HR professionals must learn how to overcome these challenges and create thriving multi-generational teams.

Consider the 5 tips below to ensure a successful multi-generational workforce.

1. Educate your team

A fundamental part of managing a multi-generational workplace is educating your staff on the benefits of working with employees from diverse age groups.

When they see the benefits, they form a common objective: to gain first-hand experiences and invaluable perspectives from colleagues of different generations.

Besides the advantages, you must also communicate transparently about any challenges that could arise when people from different generations work together.

That way, your team can develop a deeper appreciation of the process and participate in developing solutions to bridge the gaps.

2. Overcome stereotypes

Stereotypical views of different ages can limit a team’s potential and cause unnecessary tension in the workplace. When employees only see their coworkers as either ‘old’ or ‘young,’ they start to make false assumptions that can lead to misunderstandings.

For example, older employees might consider Millennials spoiled and tech-obsessed, while Gen-Zers could perceive Baby Boomers as stubborn and closed-minded.

As an HR professional, you must create an environment where everyone has a voice and is respected, regardless of age. Below are some practical ways to overcome age-related stereotypes.

  • Continuously monitor workplace interactions to identify and address underlying signs of age bias.
  • Conduct periodic employee engagement surveys to collect feedback from different generations.
  • Implement a zero-tolerance policy for any form of prejudice.
  • Educate all employees about the importance of moving beyond labels.
  • Sensitize managers to create teams that value the individual strengths of every employee.

3. Establish trust and accountability

Trust is key to any successful team, but it is especially critical in multi-generational workforces. An age-diverse team needs to develop mutual respect for different perspectives so that each generation can contribute meaningfully.

The best way to build trust is to set clear expectations and accountabilities.

Establish goal-setting procedures that ensure everyone understands their expected contribution to the team and how their strengths fit into the company’s strategy. That way, all employees will feel comfortable relying on each other to achieve common goals.

4. Accommodate diverse working styles

A multi-generational workforce has different working styles and preferences. For instance, older generations might prefer to work during regular office hours, while younger staff members may want more flexible working arrangements.

To build a successful age-diverse team, you must consider these differences and take meaningful actions to accommodate them.

For example, you can create an efficient, clutter-free layout that maximizes productivity for office-goers while investing in collaborative software for teams working from home. The goal is to create a workplace where everyone feels supported, regardless of their working style.

5. Encourage regular feedback

Regular feedback is essential to an age-diverse team because it ensures everyone feels heard and valued while providing an opportunity to identify potential issues before they become severe.

So, establish feedback loops that allow members to openly express their opinions, provide constructive criticism, and suggest solutions that can help bridge any age divides.

You can also leverage pulse surveys, employee appraisals, and one-on-one meetings to keep an open dialogue and foster a positive working environment.

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Diversity is critical to a successful organization

In today’s dynamic world of work, companies must have a diverse staff that brings different views and skill sets to the table.

When you create an inclusive workforce, you benefit from increased productivity, innovation, and operational agility and stay ahead of the competition in both the customer and talent markets.

Building a multi-generational workforce is an excellent way to unlock the benefits of diversity, but it requires some effort. Nevertheless, with the right strategies, you can create an inclusive work environment where all generations are respected and can contribute meaningfully.

Use the tips above to make your organization a leader in the age-diverse space.

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