The workforce today tends to be highly multigenerational. And this is certainly not a bad thing - people of different ages and experiences can bring a variety of things to a business. We tend to associate the younger generations with innovation and being tech-savvy, while the older generations have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Even if these are generalisations, it is true that employees of different ages tend to expect different things from their employers. 

This is why it’s so important to offer all your employees a number of opportunities and benefits. That way, everyone can get what they’re looking for. So you need to focus on things like communication, collaboration, and employee engagement. 

What is a Multigenerational Workforce?

As the name suggests, a multigenerational workforce is one made up of people of all different ages. These are often split into categories, which include the following:

  • Traditionalists: Also known as the Silent Generation, these employees are the sort of people who have been working their way up the same corporate ladder throughout their entire careers. Some may now be working fewer hours, easing into retirement.
  • Baby Boomers: Generally born between the 1940s and 1960s, these people are all about working hard, while rejecting traditional values. They were known for outside-the-box thinking, though will now be reaching retirement age.
  • Generation X: If you were born between 1965 and 1980, you’d be considered Generation X. These people are considered to be both independent and adaptable.
  • Millennials: Millennials are anyone born between 1980 and 1995. They are known for craving recognition and feedback, as well as working better within a team.
  • Generation Z: This group is the youngest entering the workforce - born after 1995. They are associated with technical know-how, and are thought to be more open minded than some of the previous generations.

Of course not everyone born in these periods will fit into one of the listed categories. Not all members of Generation Z, for example, will be brilliant with technology. But as a rough guide, these categories can be quite useful.

How to Manage a Multigenerational Workforce

A lot of businesses, particularly larger companies, will have a workforce made up of various generations. Overseeing such a diverse group of people can be challenging, but certainly not impossible! We’ve outlined five simple tips for managing a multigenerational workforce below:

1. Encourage Communication

One of the most important things for any business, regardless of the age of its employees, is open communication. If you’re not transparent with your staff, tension can build, and mistakes might be made. While you don’t want to be checking in constantly, it’s essential to be approachable should anyone want to raise an issue.

It’s worth bearing in mind that research suggests that different generations prefer to be communicated with in different ways. The older generations tend to be more reserved, while those belonging to Gen X are looking for direct and straightforward language. Millennials often prefer to work as a team, and Gen Z are mostly looking for regular contact. 

2. Help Employees Find a Great Work-Life Balance 

Flexible work schedules are becoming increasingly common. Even those generations who are more resistant to change should agree that being able to tailor your work schedule to suit your needs is a positive thing. 

For some employees, flexibility at work could mean they’re able to pick their kids up from school, while for others, they can ease into retirement by working fewer hours. The key thing is to listen to your staff, and see how you can support them.

multigenerational workforce

3. Set Up Collaborative Projects

Perhaps the biggest benefit of having multigenerational staff is their range and variety of skill. This includes both formal education and skills picked up on the job. By encouraging collaboration between different generations, you can align complementary skill-sets and help staff learn from each other.

It can also be a good idea to set up mentorship programmes, pairing older and younger employees. You might be surprised by how much knowledge can be shared! The older generations will be able to pass on details about the business and industry, while members of Generation Z can bring innovative ideas to the table. 

4. Avoid Stereotyping

Hopefully this will just be common sense - most managers understand that stereotyping will lead to an unhappy work environment. You instead need to treat all your employees as individuals, looking at things like their skill level, work ethic, and willingness to learn. If you have a larger team, this can be more difficult. But that’s why many companies have middle-management, who can oversee smaller groups of people. 

It’s also important to help your staff understand the benefits of a multigenerational workforce, as well as any common issues that may arise. Perhaps have a group discussion regarding this topic, and see if you can come up with ways of using diversity to your advantage. 

5. Focus on the Big Picture

It’s good to remind yourself that everyone within the company is working towards the same goal. So even if different generations have different approaches, you should be celebrating the fact that each team member is contributing to the success of the business. 

Also bear in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing any team, multigenerational or otherwise. You need to get to know your staff, and then experiment with different styles and strategies. As long as you regularly review your progress, you’re bound to see fantastic results!

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