While experts are trying to agree on which generation constitutes the Baby Boomers and which constitutes Gen X or Y (Millennials), the reality of today’s work environment is that we have – for the first time in the history – three generations working together.
By 2020, 46% of the labor force will be comprised of Millennials and only 25.6% of baby boomers, according to the Bureau Labor of Statistics.
The generation gap and the so-called “conflict between generations” is a reality of every office.
As a leader, you want to make sure your people are driven by your company’s values. You want to create a pleasant work environment in which your people support and help each other – and more importantly – learn from each other.
Closing the generation gap and making your employees work together isn’t easy. Failing to bring together baby boomers, Millennials and Gen X is the reason why many businesses struggle with worker appreciation, retention, and cohesiveness.
Understanding the differences of how each of these generations live and work is the secret to creating an empowering culture. This happens when people will work and support one another for the greater goal: your business.
Though it’s not as easy as it sounds, here are five helpful tactics to help you close the generation gap in your company.
Begin by communicating clearly your goals and expectations. Explain to each of your generational workers how their part in the project will help the bottom line and why it’s important they participate. Also, don’t leave out how the project will help them personally.
Encourage feedback and check on a regular basis the progress your team has made.
2. Empower People
Bringing together three generations and making them work together can be a difficult task.
You have to understand how they like to work as individuals, what motivates and drives them and then assign the work according to their strengths.
If your employees feel they have a personal connection with your project and company – and if they feel their contribution is important – they will use everything in their power to help the company be a success.
Some easy ways to empower your team is by:
- Allowing them to make their own decisions
- Reminding your team with specific examples tailored for each member
- Telling them how their work impacts the bottom line
3. Create Mixed Teams
Each generation has its own assets to bring to the table. Mixing different generations helps everyone learn from each other and it will bring you different solutions and perspectives for your projects.
Remember, people feel and see things differently according to their life and work experience. This can create a stimulating soundboard on your team.
In spite of what the world thinks, people are willing to change if change is brought to them in a way they can understand it.
Partnering younger workers with older ones can help them learn from one another.
Millennials can benefit from baby boomers’ experience with the company, learn about structure, and how to negotiate with clients. On the other hand, boomers can learn technology skills and how to complete certain tasks faster, and about creating work-life balance.
Mentorship doesn’t have to be formal, but it has to exist in your company and you should make sure it’s happening on a continual basis.
As a leader, when creating teams you should look beyond experience and skill set. Of course, you have to have certain skills to complete a project, but while skills and experience can be taught, there is nothing to replace or teach attitude.
Look for the right attitude in people, whether they are Millennials, Gen X or baby boomers. They will help move your organization forward.