The beauty of the world lies in mixing, managing, acceptance and appreciation of generational differences -Ty Howard
The modern-day workplace is beginning to spot employees from different generations; from the tenured employees who may be in the twilight of their career to the young employees who are only just starting off. While a multigenerational workplace may be seen as being beneficial in many aspects, it also comes with a myriad of issues ranging from clashes in communication styles, preferences, personalities, etc. It is however important that a workplace utilize the differences through the adoption of an inclusive work culture to harness all the diverse potentials.
This article seeks to explore the idea of a multigenerational workplace, the benefits in having diverse age groups in the workplace and the challenges of managing the dynamics of a multigenerational workplace. So, what does a multigenerational workplace mean?
A multigenerational workplace refers to a work environment that features employees from different generations, like the pre-boomer generation, the baby boomer generation, the Generation X, the millennial generation, and the Generation Z. A multigenerational workplace, potentially requires working with diverse teams of people cutting across four to six different generations at the same time.
The baby boomer generation is made up of people born between 1946 and 1965, then the Generation X are persons born between 1965 and 1976, while the Generation Y is also known as the Millennials are made up of individuals born between 1977 and 1994. These are the different generational groups that may be found in recent times in a multigenerational workforce. Another emerging generational group that may soon start featuring as employees in the modern labour market are the Generation Z is also known as the digital natives and is made up of people born from 1995 onwards.
Having a multigenerational workforce has some benefits which impacts positively on an organization, both socially and economically. Some of the advantages includes: Driving of innovation through the versatility in the use of new technology and agile ways of working with younger generations of the employee while older generations contribute professional and specialist knowledge, then industry experience to guide a work team towards achieving its business goals.
A multigenerational workforce also has the advantage of allowing an opportunity for reverse mentoring within the workplace. This works in situations where older employees are paired with younger staff to enable them to enjoy some sort of mentoring on recent technology or social media use, etc. This could also be vice versa where an older employee takes on the role of a mentor to educate a younger staff on certain skill set and industry experience.
It is worth noting that it is usually not all rosy in a multigenerational workplace, because there are some qualities and characteristics generally known to be peculiar to a certain generation of individuals and this is often described as generational differences. The generational differences most often result in obvious disparity in their general qualities, priorities, concerns, values, belief system, and approach to issues, etc. For example, it is a fact that a 50-year-old employee will carry on his roles and responsibilities as a worker in a mostly different way compared to a 25-year-old co-worker.
The stereotypes and generalizations often associated with the different generations may sometimes not allow for a seamless work relationship in the workplace. It is therefore important that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion compliant corporate organizations and business, as employers of labor find ways of managing the situation. This may be by adopting tested inclusion strategies that allow each generation to feel welcomed and valued in the workplace.