Understanding generational differences can help your business plan better communication strategies and promote a more cohesive team environment while also being sensitive to older or younger individuals’ unique needs than you are (or are otherwise outside of your cohort). Here’s what you need to know about generational diversity in the workplace to set up your organization to succeed with this aspect of team building in mind.
These are your grandparents, who came of age during an era where diversity and inclusion were only a pipe dream. They tend to be highly loyal to their employers, and they’re very traditional in their work ethic.
They value equality but don’t necessarily see it as vital to business success; they believe that inequality is just part of life, like death or taxes. They’re also less likely to seek new challenges at work than other generations because they’ve already accomplished everything they wanted to do in their careers.
These are individuals who were born immediately following World War II. They’re loyal and hard-working, with a strong sense of patriotism. They also have a distaste for change—they were part of the Greatest Generation, after all—and prefer to run their companies formally and hierarchically. As they retire, there will be fewer leaders in major corporations, making it increasingly important for future managers to understand their needs and values.
For boomers, Gen Xers were a bridge to millennial thinking. They learned things like questioning authority and mixing work with personal lives. Their parents taught them to speak up, but they watched their elder siblings rebel against that advice.
This generation understands diversity, teamwork, and equality in ways previous generations might not fully understand. They’re used to having their opinions matter in a very different form than other generations have experienced.
Millennials have grown up with technology and, as a result, are quick to adapt to change. This generation also values company culture and meaningful work. They are more inclusive than previous generations. Having spent much of their lives in diverse communities, they expect companies to value diversity.
Many millennials understand that generational differences exist, but they don’t like being viewed as special or treated differently because of their age. Respect and inclusion are fundamental to them, making it difficult for others not from their generation to relate.
Gen Z has been called the “do everything” generation. They like to work hard and play hard, with an average of four hours a day dedicated to recreational activities, such as sports and video games.
They are also known as “digital natives.” This generation was born into a world where technology is commonplace and expects it in their daily lives.
Their parents have significantly influenced their career paths—Gen Z is more likely than previous generations to have had their parents help them choose their college major.
Diversity, inclusion, equality, equity, and belonging are essential in modern workplaces. A well-run workplace involves variety at all levels and encourages different perspectives and experiences. Understanding generational diversity allows us to take advantage of our differences and build on them. Nothing holds us back from true equality when we truly understand each other.
1) Different attitudes lead to better problem solving
When people from different generations work together, each team member can bring a unique perspective to solve a problem. This approach is better than one person looking at something from only one point of view. A business with several different viewpoints on how to fix an issue may be able to come up with more innovative solutions to problems than those that only have one set of eyes or thoughts on it.
2) A multitude of ideas produce better results
Working with a diverse group of people generates more ideas, which means you can get more work done. By employing individuals of various generations, you’ll better prepare your business for future changes—and they’ll inspire your next big idea. And don’t forget: As much as we may be drawn to new technology and tools, many aspects of our lives are still rooted in old habits.
3) Embrace difference, not fear it
These days, many people fear and mistrust generational diversity. Some believe millennials are lazy and entitled. Others hold older generations in contempt for their need to cling to old ways of doing things; still, others believe Generation X-ers are obsolete because they lack empathy and work ethic. But when it comes to workplace performance, we need all generations working together—and getting better with each other as time goes on.
When it comes to generational diversity, knowledge-sharing is key. Older workers have decades of experience in their fields, but they’re also often more resistant to change and more inclined to insist on following procedures. If you want your company to grow and evolve, keeping things fresh by introducing new ideas and concepts is a must. Older employees can help with that. On the other hand, younger employees are likely to be more open to innovation—and may even bring some new ideas into play themselves.
5) Employers who embrace diversity thrive
Studies have shown that companies with diverse workforces—meaning they employ people from diverse age groups, ethnicities, genders and educational backgrounds—outperform their competitors. Although more research is necessary to discover precisely why a diverse workforce leads to improved company performance, a diverse team likely encourages innovation. Additionally, an employee who feels respected at work will be more likely to stay on for years.
Diversity, inclusion, equality, equity, and belonging are all words that we hear thrown around in conversation daily. By understanding generational diversity, you will better understand how to create an inclusive work environment for all employees.