How do we connect the generations in the workforce? In my interview with The Day Ahead, we discuss generational differences in the workplace and how to best connect the generations.
The type of workforce we have today is not something we have seen in our history. Millennials and baby boomers, young and old, all sharing the workplace. That means companies are having to adjust to fit the style of these different generations.
Generational Differences in the Workplace
Should companies recognize the differences in these generations? And how should they do that?
Each generation comes to the workforce with a different set of expectations. It’s not about stereotyping or putting people in boxes. It’s about evaluating experiences people had that shape their expectations of their employer.
Baby boomers are a phenomenal generation that has an incredible tribal knowledge about their companies. As the younger generations come on board, there needs to be a connection between the seasons of generations. That includes Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. The less seasoned generations, such as millennials and now gen Zs.
Understanding Generations in the Workplace
Millennials were connected with a phone in their hand starting from junior high, and now it is even earlier. We’re not educated equally in terms of technology.
Millennials are coming on board with a desire to mix things up. To change the workforce, to challenge the status quo. And that’s a good thing. Sometimes we have an emotional attachment to the way we’ve always done it.
When someone comes on board and says: ‘Let’s move it, change it, flip it, turn it...’ Our instinct is to say that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The problem is that when we do that, not only do we disconnect from the millennials, we possibly lose out on some really good ideas.
Ask yourself whatever they want to do, whatever they want to challenge, does it negatively impact cost, quality, safety, or service? If the answer is no, try it!
The worst-case scenario will be no change. The best-case scenario will be that you reinvent the way you’re doing business. Or… you will find an easier way to get things done.
How to Connect the Generations in the Workplace
There’s no generation that is immune to lazy people. Just because a millennial has less experience than an older employee, that does not mean that they are not as passionate about what they’re doing. Recognizing the passion, excitement, and enthusiasm for the task at hand does not necessarily correlate to years of experience!
People can can develop better work habits. They become better at their job as they age, but if someone’s lazy – not sure that can be changed!
Establish that basic rapport that you need to get along with your colleagues. Introduce yourself, find something in common with them, get to know them. You learn how to work with people differently by actually doing it.