With up to five generations currently in the workforce, each group brings their own set of attitudes and values based on their generation’s experience. Such large differences can often cause conflict, especially in the workplace. On the other hand, these differences can also lead to positive relationships, such as older workers mentoring younger colleagues.
There has been a lot of discussion lately about the “unretired” – seniors who are returning to the workforce in droves for economic or personal reasons. I call this formidable group “Gen U™” because they represent an astounding number of people who have a completely different mindset from that of prior retired generations. Thankfully, smart companies are beginning to embrace their value, wisdom and experience.
There’s no shortage of opinions on Millennials, but let’s start with a fact: They will outnumber Baby Boomers in the workforce by 2015. You read that right. This generation, born between 1980 and 2000, will also make up 75% of employees by 2025. Because it’s clearly time for leaders to learn how to engage Millennials, here are three things to keep in mind.
Respectful communication in the workplace is very much influenced by how the generations have encountered personal life experiences. Older employees are well accustomed to communication that consisted of sit down, face-to-face type communication with lots of eye-contact, always looking for and reading non-verbal cues (body language), and empathic listening. However, this style of communication may be a struggle for younger management teams due to their dependence on technology based interactions. So how do we overcome this generational communication gap and find ways to overcome the differences in communication styles?