Navigating Generational Shifts in the Workplace

The presence of five generations in a single workforce is shaking things up for business owners.

With Gen Z on the verge of becoming much of the modern workforce, business owners must prepare their different approach to labor, communication and professional goals. While Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers and even Silent Generation workers continue to apply their skills and wisdom to a plethora of jobs, shifting cultural landscapes bring about the potential for a clash of ideals.

Understanding the similarities and differences between generations is the first step in fostering collaboration toward the common goals of your business.

Understand evolving priorities

Having entered the workforce amid a global pandemic and economic uncertainty, young professionals are navigating a novel set of challenges in the early stages of their careers.

These challenges have led to vastly different priorities and goals for those just now reaching adulthood in the face of unprecedented inflation and social change. Remote work for example, is becoming much more accepted — and even demanded by those who’ve seen the advantages firsthand. And for those who haven’t experienced work in an office, the benefits may not be immediately apparent.

As a leader in your organization, taking the time to assess different perspectives to help find a solution that bridges the gap between multigenerational workers is key to fostering a productive, comfortable environment for all your employees.

Don't take it personally

It’s important to remind ourselves that what may seem out of the norm to one person may be completely innocuous and unintentional to others who grew up with a different framework.

Younger workers tend to prefer text-based communication to other methods, like phone calls, for its convenience and the ability to refer to written text after the fact. Rather than see a text message or email in response to a voicemail as lacking interpersonal consideration, try to put yourself in the shoes of someone whose primary mode of communication throughout their personal life is text-based.

If you think something necessitates a face-to-face conversation, take the time to explain why. It may expose them to a perspective they hadn't considered and vice versa.

Get to know your workers

Stereotypes that pigeonhole different generations of workers, by definition, don’t apply to everyone. People have much more in common when you scratch the surface. Though different generations of professionals bring diverse experiences to the table, everyone is navigating the workplace simultaneously with similar goals of productivity and fulfillment. Taking time to get to know your employees individually by listening to their concerns and preferences can help eliminate tension among teams throughout your company.

Feeling responsible for the people who help your business flourish and succeed is natural. Having open discourse with your team to help create an environment where they can thrive regardless of age is vitally important.