What Leaders Should Expect About Managing Generational Diversity in the Workplace

19 September 2018

What do you get when you cross a gaggle of Gen Zs, a muster of Millennials and a bunch of Baby Boomers? You get a varied, vibrant and diverse working environment.

Workplaces these days are conglomerations of skills, personalities, styles and ages. With many businesses bringing 4 or 5 generations together, what can managers and leaders expect? Harmony? Often…. Discord? At times…. Results? In theory, yes!

Each group brings their own brand of talent to the table, and together they make a colourful and productive combination. But managers must be aware of their innate differences if they want to take full advantage of their varied skillsets and personalities. We took a closer look into the generational diversity in today's workplace and what leaders could consider when thinking how to bring the best out of their team.

Is Gen Z Really ‘Generation Sensible’?

According to The Office for National Statistics they drink and smoke less, so if sobriety makes you shrewd, this could be a fitting moniker. Born between 1996 and 2014, they’ve always been wired. They simply cannot imagine a world without internet and smartphones and they take Wi-Fi for granted. They spend hours glued to screens and communicate digitally. They even text each other from the same room!

Z’s get a pretty bad press but managers could be pleasantly surprised. They are acutely aware of a troubled planet. Terrorist attacks are the norm and they’ve lived through recessions, often growing up around parents facing redundancies and job losses.

Z’s want to make a difference in the world and are keenly aware of poverty, racism and refugee issues. They are excellent employees for social enterprises and can help boost the social awareness of any business.

And Millennials? What can they teach us?

Born between 1980 and 2000, Millennials are seen by many as, well, a pain. But are they really all entitled, lazy and self-obsessed? Actually many are open-minded, liberal and passionate about equality. In a work context they are multitaskers but the downside is they find social media and texting hard to resist.

If managers are upfront about expectations and set clear and time-specific goals, they will see the best in their Millennial employees. They are connected and are experts in social media. If your company isn’t employing social media effectively, Millennials will make this right. They are tech-savvy and will help the business stay up to date, but they want instant gratification and recognition.

They need to feel like what they are doing is important – so tell them how grateful you are – regularly.

They want work-life balance and flexibility and will not sacrifice personal life for work.

Those Baby Boomers – still making waves

Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 have a strong work ethic. Self-assured and competitive, they are goal-centric, resourceful, focussed and team players. And very very disciplined. Clashes sometimes arise with younger colleagues who don’t share their dedication.

Armed with professional achievements, they are proud of their success and attribute it to hard work. And they like to shout about it. If their tech-know how is lacking, they are motivated to learn as much as possible, even if it means overloading their diaries. Baby Boomers like structure. Many grew up in households that were highly disciplined which shapes who they are today.

Stereotypes aside, bringing 3 or 4 generations together in a workplace is highly conducive to strong teamwork and outstanding productivity, as long as everyone is aware of their collective generational differences. Leaders can achieve a real strategic advantage by embracing the diversity among generations as long as they remain flexible, understanding and non-judgemental.

Managing multiple generations in the workplace is a regular topic we hear about from our clients. To discuss the speakers we work with, or just for some more info, call us on   or email  info@speakerscorner.co.uk .

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