Bridging the Generation Gap in the Workplace

We are living in interesting times right now. There seems to be a lot of clashes between different groups of people. One of those clashes is generational. The Baby Boomer generation (folks in their 60s and 70s) is starting to retire from the workforce and Generation Y (Teens and early 20s) is starting to enter. In between, we have Generation X (40s and 50s) and the Millennials (mid-20s to 30s). Just a side note, though there is some dispute to exact cut-offs for these generational differences, there is no need to be exact here.

Characteristics of the Generations

Every generation has a unique set of characteristics based on how they grew up. World views change individually and collectively as we evolve as a society, these views affect who we are. Let’s first consider some of the broad characteristics of each generation:

  • Baby Boomers: The Baby Boomers got their name from the post-WWII baby boom. Soldiers came home and families started growing again. The Boomers were raised by parents who lived through the Great Depression, so they were very frugal as a result. They also were raised in a time where most women stayed home and fathers were the breadwinners of the family. So, the values of this generation tend to be more conservative, family-oriented, and traditional.
  • Generation X: These were the 80s kids. They were the first to grow up with cable television, Atari systems, and microwave ovens. Many of their mothers joined the workforce and single parents became more common. So, Generation X tends to want more freedom, whether that be freedom of expression, freedom to work and live how they want, etc.
  • Millennials: Millennials are the first generation to grow up with a constant connection to the internet. They might remember the time before cell phones, but not as adults. The Millennial Generation tends to be confident and ambitious. These people were raised to be equal with their peers, encouraged to participate in multiple activities, and given praise at every step along the way. Millennials aren’t afraid of challenges because they were told that they can do anything if they put their mind to it. They excel when they are praised and recognized for their hard work.
  • Generation Z: This generation is just coming into play in the workplace. Word is still out on some of the solid characteristics of Gen Z, as they are just coming into adulthood. Don’t overlook them though, they are fierce. They are not afraid to be who they are, tell people what they stand for, and speak out when they need to.

Bringing Everyone together Regardless of Generation

So, with all the diversity, how can you bridge the gap between generations in order for everyone to be able to get along and work in harmony? Here are some ideas:

  • Communication! Communication is key in all relationships. Encourage an open-door policy where people feel welcome in bringing their thoughts, ideas, and complaints without fear of backlash.
  • Team Building. Hold Team Building exercises so that your team can get to know each other. They might find they have more in common than they think. Encourage your long-term team members to mentor your new staff.
  • Remember that everyone has their own way of learning and their own way of working. Your team members can work how they prefer, and still follow your work processes.
  • Talk to each other about the generational gaps. Encourage them to express to each other how they prefer to work and learn. They will learn from each other and learn how to interact with each other.
  • Different does not mean wrong. Everyone will bring a different set of ideas to the table. Keep an open mind to their ideas, they might be the next great thing for your business!
  • Look at all points of view. Keep an open mind and encourage others to do the same. Think about where the other person is coming from and how both points of view can be acknowledged.

Using Technology to Bridge the Gap

Technology is nothing to be scared of. It should be embraced! Technology is the vehicle in which your team will use to drive your business.

Microsoft Teams is an excellent example of that technology. Let’s look at how Teams can help you bridge the gap.

  • Chat is used in multiple ways. Not only is it a time saver with little questions and conversations, but it also is a good team builder! Utilize a group chat with your team to blow off steam, share articles, and have the occasional giggle.
  • Emojis, Gifs, and Stickers are included in chat and encourages younger generations to utilize company technology by making it similar to social media. There is an emoji, gif, or sticker for every occasion!
  • Praise. Did you know that you can send praise in Teams? Validate your user’s efforts so that everyone can see that they’ve done a great job on something. Remember, your younger generations thrive on praise and recognition.

Bringing your team together is a challenge for many companies, you’re not alone. Understanding what makes each generation tick will help you navigate that bridge! Think about your team members and how they currently work and interact with each other. How can that be improved? In what ways can you help bridge the gap? A happy workforce is a productive workforce!

About Harbor Computer Services

Harbor Computer Services is an IT firm servicing Southeastern Michigan. We work exclusively under contract with our clients to provide technology direction and either become the IT department or provide assistance to the internal IT they already have. We have won many awards for our work over the years, including the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year in 2010. We’re the smallest firm to have ever won this most prestigious award. Most recently we were recognized as one of the top 20 visionaries in small business IT by ChannelPro Magazine (2015). And in 2016 as the top Michigan IT firm for Manufacturing. There are a few simple things that make Harbor Computer Services the best choice for your business. •We are Professionals •We are Responsible •We are Concerned About The Success of Your Business

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