Did you know there are five different generations currently working? This generational divide spans ninety years (yes, there are ninety-year-olds still in the workforce today). This means that the following generations may be represented in your company:
The Silent Generation (1900-1945)
Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
Generation X (1966-1980)
Millennials (1981-2000) – Sometimes this gets broken down further into “elder Millennials” (1980-1985) vs. “Millennials”
Generation Z (2001-2020)
The largest generation represented in the workforce – and the most often talked about – are Millennials. While this generation is one that many, many articles discuss and pick apart, or goal isn’t to do so. Instead, we want to speak to how your company can bridge any generational divide and provide an equitable workplace.
How to Bridge the Generational Divide in your Business
There is no getting around that each generation comes with different quirks, standards, and passions. This can cause conflict between people of different ages and can create unconscious biases that should be addressed.
The best way to avoid conflict among various generations and remove biases from your company is to create accessible policies, processes, and procedures that the whole team can follow.
Here are a few places to address:
1. Build Human Resources policies that promote equity
Your HR department can build policies that prevent ageism and promote equity during the hiring process right out of the gate. For example, HR can use a third party to create “blind” resumes that strip out indications of age, gender, race, and ability. Such policies ensure that everyone beginning the hiring process truly stands on equal footing. This is just one example of how consistent policy can promote workplace equity.
2. Create a culture of education/sharing best practices
One of the benefits of documenting processes and procedures is that this systematization comes from the team and specific team members who are experts in their areas. The twenty-year-old who has been working in customer service for two years and the eighty-seven-year-old manager both have something to contribute. All contributions are beneficial as long as they accurately describe how one might successfully complete a step of the process.
A team that has worked with one another on systematization will have built their own culture of sharing and education. This can go a long way to bridging generational divides that may otherwise have caused friction.
3. Use a variety of media when creating processes and procedures
How we learn is not necessarily generational – but it can be individual. Some people are visual learners, while others want to follow step-by-step instructions. Providing videos, images, and lists can help your entire staff understand how to perform a process and accomplish their goal.
4. Consider training as a core need for everyone
There are about a million articles about how to cater to every generation on an individual basis. One of the commonalities in all of these articles – and something we have seen repeatedly – is that all generations want to learn and grow. Education crosses the generational divide, and providing opportunities for growth for every employee will help keep the whole team moving forward.
5. Survey your whole workforce about priorities
When you are trying to understand people, the lens of “generation” seems to make a lot of sense. However, you might be surprised by how little age differences matter when it comes to one’s ability to work with and learn from others.
Additionally, age may make little difference when it comes to personal priorities.
For example, a Baby Boomer may want insurance because they need to cover a medication or medical procedure, while a Millennial may want insurance because they want to ensure their child can go to the emergency room without sinking the family into debt. Either way, they both want insurance.
When you consider your team from a lens of human beings who want to work together and need specific supports along the way, and then ask them about their priorities in work and life – you may be surprised by the similar answers.
Be sure to have in-depth discussions with your workforce about work/life priorities to ensure your company is keeping talented and knowledgeable people on board for the long term.
Are you hoping to bridge a specific gap in your company, but aren’t sure where to start? Get in touch with Business Success Consulting Group.