A recent article on Workplace Insights has shed some light on what is, perceptionally at least, quite a fuzzy area… the differences (or similarities!) between the various generations who make up many of today’s workplace staff.
The article references a survey conducted by Instant Offices, which asked employees to articulate what is important to them in the workplace, and what therefore makes them feel happy.
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty of similiarities and differences in the workplace, let’s give some broad definitions of the generations:
The above is, of course, a broad generalisation, and actually the truth of the matter is that the lines between the generations – particularly between Baby Boomers and Gen Y – are much more blurred than people may think.
When asked within the survey about what would make them happy, some of these blurred lines between the generations became far more evident than one might expect, for example:
What does this mean for employers?
Well actually, it’s quite simple – firstly, discard assumptions about ‘generational characteristics’ – from Baby Boomers to Gen Z, each individual will have different aspirations, approaches and perceptions of how they would like to integrate into the workplace.
Secondly, communication is key – both at an individual and organisational level, ensure that your management team actively encourages conversation and debate around how to make the workplace environment one that all staff feel works for them.
Also, use motivational language and actions often to ensure that all your staff feel valued and part of a team that is working towards a common goal. And share the rewards – achieving the goal takes a combined effort that should be amply and broadly rewarded.
Thirdly, play up to each generation’s inherent strengths – 30 years experience for a Baby Boomer is invaluable when passed down to a tech-savvy but recently-employed Gen Z staff member.
Similarly, a digitally-skilled Gen Z may be able to pass on a wealth of new skills to the older generations to help them work more efficiently.
Close the gap between the generations by recognising common needs, celebrating differences and fostering a cross-generational learning environment that makes everyone part of the value chain.
In short, close the gap!