Generations, Assemble: Managing the Multigenerational Workforce

By Jennifer Eng

Gen X. Millennials. Gen Z. Baby boomers. The Revengers. Now more than ever, different generational groups abound in the current workplace. With millennials making up the largest group in the workforce, Gen Zers entering the workforce, and a large number of baby boomers working past the traditional retirement age, some organizations have employees who are up to six decades apart.

Generational Differences: In My Day, I Walked to Work in a Snowstorm!

With such a wide range of generations comes several challenges: workplace dynamics have transformed, older workers sometimes fear losing their jobs to the younger generation, and managers struggle with leading multigenerational teams.

The Wall Street Journal’s Carol Hymowitz suggests that managers “create opportunities for young employees to advance (or risk losing them) while also making sure veterans, whose skills they need in today’s tight labor market, don’t feel overlooked.” And, it’s important for managers to remember that each generation has “huge variables”—instead of focusing on age differences, managers need to “confront their own biases so they can move their teams beyond labels,” while striving to identify individual employees’ skills and strengths.

Better Together: Multigenerational Supergroups

New research from Cloverpop detailed in Forbes showed that multigenerational teams make better decisions together: decision-making teams with a range of 25 years or more are twice as likely to meet or exceed expectations. The “combination of youth plus experience” can be truly effective.

What are some other ways different generations can work together more effectively? 

Pairing younger and seasoned talent in a two-way mentorship helps “promote knowledge sharing across generations” and can help senior executives learn just as much as they teach. Additionally, encouraging more collaboration among employees of different generations helps enhance productivity and innovation.

Generational Differences in Workplace Loyalty

We also recently conducted a survey here at Bridge to find out about generational differences in expectations, desires, and loyalty. Businesses need to appeal to a variety of different generations, especially as 25 percent of annual turnover is voluntary, with 75 percent influenced by management.

Here are four things managers can do to influence employees across multiple generations to stay engaged and loyal:

1. Give feedback and take criticism: Employees who receive regular feedback are three times more likely to be engaged.


2. Create teams where everyone can hone leadership skills: Having employees of different generations combine their skills in team settings helps employees learn from each other and more accurately assess one another.


3. Make time for cross-generational mentorship: As mentioned earlier, pairing employees with senior talent can be beneficial for both parties, and relationships like these can help employees feel heard and gain new perspectives on their work.  


4. Take exit interviews seriously: It’s no secret that employee turnover is expensive. When an employee leaves, leadership should learn the reason why and apply that knowledge to improve the employee experience for employees of all generations.


For more on the multigenerational workforce, take a look at our infographic on generational differences in workplace loyalty.

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