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Let’s talk about generations: Whether you are Gen X, a Baby Boomer, a Millennial or Gen Z, your birth year can impact your job.
Today’s workplaces are some of the most age-diverse in recent times. You might work with people in several generations in a single workday, and knowing how someone’s age impacts how they think, feel, create and relate is key to successful business interactions.
So, what are the generations you might encounter and what are some general traits?
- Generation Z, born between 1997–2012: This generation is very comfortable with technology and they are more likely to use social media and the Internet. They are more about working to live than living to work and they are seeking flexibility and diversity in the workplace.
- Millennials, born between 1981–1996: This generation is also very tech-savvy and they prefer online communications to face-to-face interactions (for the most part). They are career-focused but they grew up in a recession, so they aren’t always loyal to one employer. They are seeking work with purpose or meaning.
- Generation X, born between 1965–1980: This generation is hardworking, independent and has adapted to technology. Highly educated, they prefer to work independently and flexibly.
- Baby boomers, born between 1946–1964: This generation is hardworking and prefers face-to-face interactions. They aren’t always the most tech-savvy bunch and they like to be recognized for their contributions and achievements.
- Silent generation, born between 1928 and 1945: There are fewer members of this generation still working but you’ll find some in many workplaces. They are traditional and hardworking. They prefer in-person communication and sharing their knowledge.
To bridge the generation gap, you have to look at traits – and outlooks — common to each generation. These are generalizations, it’s true, and it’s always best to see people as individuals as well. However, there can be issues that arise from ignoring generation gaps.
By knowing a little bit about each generation, you can understand preferences, communication styles, expectations and work habits – meaning you can avoid misunderstandings and disputes.
A multigenerational workplace is a good thing, so it is definitely worth the effort!
Here are some ideas to bridge the generation gap:
- Team building exercises that bring employees together to find common ground
- Putting people of different generations on teams or projects
- Communicating in different ways so every employee has access to information (text vs. email, newsletter vs. phone call)
When navigating a multi-generational workplace, it’s always best to be flexible and adept at change. There are strengths in every generation and we can learn a lot from one another.
Rice Education Consulting
REdCon is an organizational development firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio, with satellite offices in Washington, DC, and Las Vegas. We provide training, coaching, and strategic planning to a wide range of industries including, education, municipalities, non-profits, technology firms, and Fortune 500 companies.