3 Challenges of a Multigenerational Workforce and how to Overcome Them

Father and daughter working on laptop in workshopWhile there have always been differences between generations, rapid changes in culture and technology over the last fifty years has contributed to even greater differences today. Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials are all sharing workspace and collaborating on projects. This often results in a clash of values as these groups square off over their preferred working styles and employment expectations.

Here are three challenges faced by multigenerational workforces and how to overcome them:

  1. Communication styles. If you’re under twenty-five, you’re probably more comfortable texting informally than picking up the phone. Boomers, however, tend to find this casual style unprofessional and even rude. While younger workers are fine communicating across a variety of platforms, from Facebook Messenger to Slack, older generations are used to meetings and email. This can result in a huge breakdown in communication. The best way to smooth over communication issues is still face-to-face meetings. Getting everyone into the same room where they are more than just an email or text message helps employees learn to respect and empathize with one another.
  2. Work/life balance. Boomers were raised during a time when company loyalty was rewarded with a good retirement and stable job with strong pay. They learned that working long hours was rewarded. The more they gave the company, the more the company gave back. Millennials are used to temporary work and rolling layoffs. Many don’t stay at a job longer than a few years simply because the companies are sold and/or restructured so often they have never had job security. They have learned that working hard is no guarantee of job stability. Instead, Millennials have learned to value work/life balance. They want to work hours according to their own schedule and spend more time on the life events that matter most. Ensure that you provide a work environment that serves them by providing flex time and valuing work or projects completed over hours in the office. If you need help in a pinch, remember that you can also outsource tasks like assembly, packaging, and fulfillment services to places like Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries. With over 100 years of business experience, we stand ready to put in the hours no matter how many are needed. Take a free tour of our facilities.
  3. Create a compassionate culture. If you are concerned about the loyalty of Millennials, keep in mind that loyalty goes both ways, and establishing a compassionate company culture can instill loyalty. Employees have become used to being treated as expendable commodities, so cultivate a culture that rewards and values them. Be interested in their lives, support them when they need flexible hours to care for a loved one or attend a medical emergency, and let them know that all you expect in return is for them to keep doing a great job. The more empathy you have for your employees, the less likely you are to have to deal with high turnover and lack of productivity in your workforce.