8 ways to manage a multigenerational workforce

What is a multi-generational workforce?

As the present average retirement age has extended due to many factors, people are pushing boundaries and are working till their late 60s. Similarly, youngsters are now starting to develop real-world skills at an early age using evolving technology at the tips of their hands. The census has seen a shift from the mid-20s to the early 20s.

The change resulted in an age-diverse workforce at many organizations where four generations of Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Gen X (1965-1979), Millennials (1980-1995), and Gen Z (1995-2009) are found to be working together as a team – a multigenerational workforce.

Is a multi-generational workforce a pro or con?

When we talk about different generations working together as a team, there are always going to be disagreements and friction. Every generation has its own set of priorities, beliefs, and ways of working. But they also offer a wide range of skill sets and even wider perspectives which can prove to be quite fruitful.

This is something a company can’t avoid as the upcoming industrial age would have organizations working with people from four to even six generations at a time. All the more reason why companies and their HRs should know how to manage a multigenerational workforce.

Consider this blog as a 101 to 8 effective practices of managing a multigenerational workforce and getting the most out of it.

8 ways to manage a multigenerational workforce

1. Education is the key

Make it an essential part of training exercises where the team is familiarized with both the positive effects and common challenges that they may face while working as a part of a multigenerational workforce.

Provide customized training exercises for each generation so that your workforce is properly trained to deal with such circumstances.

Make it clear to the multi-generational teams that the management is aware of such challenges and differences, and is actively working on developing better ways of team coordination even while sharing different goals and expectations. This practice will help inculcate patience towards each other in the workforce.

2. Embrace the differences

Embracing the difference as an HR or team manager is like cracking the code for smooth collaboration among different generations.

First, you have to understand that different generations consist of different people who need different things from a manager. Ignoring these differences will lead to friction, not only among the team but with the management authorities as well.

Accepting the difference means having conversations with members across generations and trying to understand their source of motivation, experiences, and working styles. Plan the projects accordingly to have a smooth workflow and maximum output.

3. Shift their attention towards the big picture

Despite having a different approach, working style or opinion, remind yourself and your team about the common goal and the big vision shared by all.

When the team is constantly reminded of achieving the same vision in the big picture, it becomes much easier for them to work together to celebrate small wins and face challenges more collaboratively.

4. Learn and adapt as a team

Don’t take a step back from communicating and asking questions to learn the needs of each team member from every generation. Learning about their work styles will be of significant help when you will be assisting the team to adapt to each other.

Moreover, you will also get to know the staff with complementary skills and broaden your perspective, which will directly enhance the process of structuring the team for any project. For instance, you can build a mentor-mentee relationship within the team itself.

5. Avoid age bias and crush stereotypes

Don’t let your team members make assumptions about each other before letting them collaborate on a project. This practice will break the stereotype and age bias among your team members.

For example, a team member from Gen Z may find it uncomfortable collaborating with a Boomer thinking that it’d be hard to use technology with them and the same can happen with a Boomer assuming the Gen Z member is inflexible towards one’s opinion.

You can easily break through this age bias by learning more about the team and making the most compatible and flexible individuals from different generations collaborate. Inspire them to build a mutual mentorship where they share their skill sets and come out as an even more compatible and capable pair.

6. Cater to their needs with creative solutions

While a Gen Z would want a creative and friendlier office environment, a Boomer may want to spend their time with families. The opposite can also be true as we can’t stereotype based on which generation they belong to.

That’s why companies should tailor creative ways to meet their unique needs. Offering WFH, flexible work hours, or a virtual workspace will allow each individual from any generation to find the most convenient work style. Providing such convenience and flexibility is an effective and efficient way to cater to employee needs. And the practice helps in smooth operation as well.

7. Listen, respect, and appreciate

There could be several other approaches to effectively handle a multigenerational workforce and a lot of research is going on about the same. But every research and conclusion share a common approach, which is listening, respecting, and recognizing your team members.

Everyone wants to be heard, they want their opinion to be recognised and considered fairly. So the most important and effective thing to do while managing an age-diverse team is to just listen.

Ask questions, challenge assumptions, and recognize the different perspectives and values each individual brings to the table.

8. Bottom Line

While every generation is a lot different from others, you’d be surprised to notice the number of common traits. Because in the end, every employee from any generation expects respect, fair pay, proper engagement, recognition for their efforts, and a satisfying work-life balance.

Similarly, they share common problems, such as overworking, not being fairly appreciated for their efforts, and being underpaid. You can bring your team together by creating a high-quality work environment for an age-diverse team while reducing those problems shared by all the employees.