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How To Handle Multiple Generations in the Workplace

May 17, 2019

Technology and innovation have reinvented, extended and expanded the very notion of work. Coupled with the aftermath of the 2009 financial crisis, improved healthcare and extended life spans, it’s no surprise that employees are choosing to stay in the workplace longer.

As HR Advisor Daily reports, one of the most unique and challenging aspects of extended careers and pre-retirements is the number of generations working together.

In 1994, only about 12 percent of the workforce was aged 55 or over. By 2024, approximately 25% of the workforce is projected to be over the age of 55. This trend has created a powerful phenomenon – more generations than ever before in the workplace.

Today many workplaces span five generations:

Traditionalists – born before 1946

Baby Boomers – born between 1946 to 1964

Generation X – born between 1964 and 1976

Millenials (also known as Generation Y) – born between 1977 and 1997

Generation Z – born after 1997

Interestingly, an article in the Harvard Business Review articulates that for the first time in history, five generations will soon be working side by side. Learning to work with and manage multiple generations in the workplace will become essential for teams and individuals looking to thrive in the modern economy.

Corporate cultures and individuals who follow these five tenets will improve the likelihood of achieving harmonious working relationships across multiple generations:

  • Dwell on similarities, not differences
  • Build relationships through collaboration, both on-site and off-site
  • Study your team members to understand how they communicate
  • Create opportunities for cross-generational mentoring (as we like to call it, inter-generational knowledge transfer)
  • Listen to your team to understand where they are on their life path

In our experience, facilitating inter-generational knowledge transfer is one of the most powerful tools available to companies and individuals to adapt to the demands of the modern economy.

As more companies shift their thinking around diversity to be more inclusive of experience and age diversity, the workplace will begin to reflect the wealth of wisdom and talent of local communities.

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