How to Manage Employees of Different Generations
Managing employees of different generations is becoming an increasingly common challenge for line managers and employers. But how can HR professionals help to bridge the gap between team members who are generations apart?
The workplace has always brought together different age groups and walks of life, but the modern working world has highlighted the stark differences between employees of different generations often working alongside each other and contributing to the same projects.
The different perspectives and insights experienced employees can provide alongside fresh ideas from newcomers can create magical results for businesses. However, this cross section of ages in the workplace can also cause logistical managerial challenges for employers and line managers.
This vast range of ages requires differing managerial styles and techniques, so XCD are here to share Human Resources management tips to manage the different generations in the workplace. For the first time ever, the modern workplace can now see up to five different generations across the organisation:
- Generation Z (1997- 2012)
- Millennials (1981 - 1996)
- Generation X (1965-1980)
- Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
- Silent Generation (1928 – 1945)
The importance of Cross Generational Collaboration
It's common for employees to gravitate towards those of their own generation. It's only natural, after all, Baby Boomers probably aren't going to be up to date with the latest Tik Toks that the Gen Z bunch are chatting about by the coffee machine.
An effective way of managing this situation is for Human Resources to implement cross generation collaboration to ensure that all employees are mixing. Cross generational collaboration is exactly what it says on the tin: placing teams of different generations to work to common goals, share experiences and ideas to provide solutions.
Cross Generational collaboration can have a positive impact on your business as employees from different generations have different skill sets. For example, Generation Z and Millennials can have a much easier grasp on technology and learning how to use certain software as they have grown up using these technologies. Ask the new-starter in IT to give Brian (52) some tips on Excel shortcuts and you're on to a winner!
Older workers also play a vital role in the workplace, as they are able to pass down knowledge that can only be learnt through experience. It is important for human resource management to bring together the strengths of different generations to bolster a team's capabilities to reach organisational targets.
The 5 Generations in a Workplace
Generation Z is the most recent generation, born between 1997 and 2012. Having been raised during the recession, they have seen the struggle that financial instability can cause. Because of this, Generation Z greatly values financial health and stability in a job.
This generation of workers have also been raised alongside technology becoming an essential part of their working lives. They are unique in this sense, as unlike every other generation, they do not know a time without technology.
Managing Generation Z
Human resource management should know that this generation is competitive, and has an entrepreneurial spirit. As such, they prefer working individually rather than with team members. This does not mean that they are completely opposed to working alongside their team members, however, they enjoy the motivation and drive that comes with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills to their employers.
Technology is an essential aspect of the job for these workers. Their expectation is that technology and mobile working should be a part of the job in the modern world. Creating jobs that heavily revolve around the use of high-quality, user-friendly technology is an excellent way for human resource management to keep these young workers engaged and motivated.
In the workforce management process, a key aspect is diversity, and this is something that Gen Z are particularly passionate about. They are the most socially conscious generation yet, and as such they want to work for an employer who believes in the importance of creating diversity amongst team members.
Despite always being connected, Gen Z values face-to-face communication. Managers should regularly check in with their Gen Z employees, with one-to-one meetings to communicate feedback on their performance. Managers should conduct weekly performance reviews as it can help to boost their productivity.
When it comes to effectively managing this younger generation, it is important to look at how the landscape of the working world has changed, even in the last two years. This younger workforce values flexible working, and a healthy work-life balance.
Creating a culture that prioritises a healthy work-life balance can not only attract, but also retain top talent from this generation. Flexible working schedules and offering remote work are a good way for human resource management to implement this into their workplace culture.
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Millennials are a generation that were born between 1981 and 1996. This generation makes up a large chunk of the current workforce, and a lot of workforce management processes were adapted to suit the wants of these employees.
Much like Generation Z, technology plays a huge role in their day to day lives and requires technology to play an important part of their job. They were raised as technology changed the way we live our lives. Inspiration, creativity and stimulation are all things that this generation values and needs in order for employers to get the best out of them.
In order to effectively manage millennials, open and honest communication is a must. Performance is important to workers of this generation, and using performance management software can help to provide the regular feedback they desire to help motivate them in the workplace and help increase their productivity.
A good work-life balance is also important to workers of this generation, as they want to be judged on the quality of the work more than the amount of hours they are putting in. Flexible work is important to these employees, so human resource management should consider ways to implement flexible working schedules such as allowing their staff to come and go within a certain block of time, or allowing for remote work.
This workforce also sees technology as an integral part of their working life, and because of this human resource management should recognise the value of jobs that are heavily integrated with automated, easy to use technology.
Millennial workers also value having purpose in their jobs. Managers need to recognise that it isn’t enough for them to just work for the sake of working, they want meaning. Align your company and employees with a strong company mission, something that is progressive and shows your connection and current awareness to current events, and that their work is important and making an impact.
This generation of the workforce are now entering the time in their lives where they start to think about settling down with families and have significant personal circumstances. To this end, HR professionals should encourage the promotion of compensation benefits included into the salary of this generation, for example: maternity and paternity leave for new parents.
You may also be interested in: Benefits of Offering a Competitive Salary in Your Organisation
Unlike the more recent generations, these employees prefer more independence in their work. Whilst still valuing flexibility and remote work, HR and line managers must allow for these employees to take the lead more so than younger generations and respect their experience.
Managing Generation X
Although this generation did not grow up with technology in the same way the more recent ones did, they were a part of the transition to a technological workplace by having to adapt to the desktop, mobile phones and even the internet. Managers should be patient with older employees if they find technological processes more difficult.
The management of generation X will still require automated, and technology driven tasks.
Employees of Gen X were raised in a time where both parents were working. They became used to having to take care of themselves, and as a result are often self-sufficient and require a more open management style rather than the one-to-one attention that a younger workforce may prefer.
Human resource management should also consider flexible working schedules for employees of this generation too. Gen X desire flexibility as they have different responsibilities. Many Gen X employees have a focus on raising families and balancing this with their work.
To provide effective workforce management to this generation, HR should provide different compensation to staff members of Gen X, as their responsibilities and priorities are different from younger generations, and therefore will benefit more from compensation such as health care services.
When it comes to the management of baby boomers, human resources is looking at an ageing workforce which will require a different approach. People from this generation are aged between 57 and 75 years old. Baby boomers are often defined by their strong work-ethic and individualistic approach.
Managing Baby Boomers
When it comes to workforce management for baby boomers, it is important for human resources to create a work environment that is inclusive of older people in the workforce. This makes it more likely for your organisation to be able to retain its senior, experienced employees for longer. It will also help to reassure them that the workplace does not agree with age discrimination, and cares equally for them.
It is important to recognise and respect their work experience and knowledge. Baby boomers have been working for much longer than other generations, and have a whole host of skills that newer generations are yet to learn. Due to their experience, baby boomers also expect to be able to use their leadership skills to help the younger generation. Creating management and mentoring programs for younger workers to learn from their senior members of staff is an effective way to keep baby boomers engaged.
Flexible working hours isn't something they would typically look for in the same way that young workers would, as the newer generations have different values. However, offering reduced hours or part-time work increases the likelihood of employee retention with an ageing workforce.
Baby boomers also prefer a more traditional management style. They want clearly defined goals and structure in their work, and this can help to ensure productivity. For example, the method of communication is something team leaders may want to change. Boomers prefer being communicated with in person, or over the phone rather than opting for methods such as texting.
The silent generation are the oldest generation of the workforce, between 77 and 85 years old. Whilst many workers of this generation are now in retirement, there is still a small percentage that choose to work. It is important to ensure that HR recognises that a different management approach is needed when it comes to this generation compared to younger generations.
Managing the Silent Generation
In order for HR to develop effective workforce management strategies for the silent generation, it is important to remember the era in which they grew up. This generation was raised in a time of economic turmoil with the great recession shaping the way they view the working world and jobs. Because of this, they do not have the same philosophies and outlook on work that newer generations have.
One of the most important things for Human Resource management to remember is that this generation grew up in a time without technology. This means that they work in a very different way to millennials, for example. They are generally not as tech literate as other generations, as this generation had long entered the workforce by the time digital technology was taking over the world. Human resource management should be mindful of this, and not expect this generation to adopt technologies as quickly as newer generations. They may become frustrated and demotivated if they are expected to.
Similar to Baby Boomers, this generation has a plethora of skills and work experiences that they are able to pass on. It is important for Human Resources and managers to recognise the strengths of this older workforce, and use their experience to nurture younger employees through mentoring and training programs. This can also help to bridge the gap of communication between generations in the workplace.
Offering alternate compensation packages is key to employee engagement when it comes to the silent generation. Including retirement benefits and healthcare is an excellent way to keep workers of this generation happy.
These oldest workers prefer a more traditional style of management, as it’s what they knew growing up. The way employers are managing the workplace is changing and this generation is generally not open to change and flexibility in the same way newer generations are. The silent generation prefer a more structured, hierarchical system of workforce management where the order of authority is clear. Workers from this generation desire a manager with a consistent approach, where decisions are made by a few people in senior leadership positions.
Learn more below about the importance of a diverse workforce and inclusive workplace culture: