Nowadays, companies find themselves managing up to five generations of workers. Although multi-generational coexistence has always been a reality in the workplace, the rapid technological advances and socio-cultural events experienced in the latest decades have made teams more diverse than ever. This has created a challenge for companies to effectively manage these multiple age groups.
Currently, businesses have to manage employees from up to 5 different generations, having generation Z just entering the working world. Work habits and the place that work occupies on their lives are very different for each generation. It is key for the company to understand the differences and similarities between each of the groups so that they know how to encourage collaboration and interaction between them. However, the characteristics that we are about to highlight are generic, and you should keep in mind that each employee has their own singularities.
Baby boomers, those born between the 40s and 60s
All those who were born after the WWII. Generally, they remain in the same company throughout their lives, since safety and stability are very important for them. They have great respect for authority and value being part of a hierarchical organization. Promotion decisions were based on seniority and not necessarily on achievements, capabilities or skills. For them, work is a priority in life over leisure.
This is a generation that didn’t have at its disposal the technological tools that we have today, and the possibilities that instant messaging brings; they are used to face-to-face or telephone communication and a more formal tone.
Generation X, those born between the 60s and 80s.
A generation that lived through a time of both, crisis and bonanza, and also the transition from analogical to digital. If there is something to be highlighted about them, it would be their ability to adapt to change. In the workplace, they value being able to learn and develop their skills and the possibilities of professional growth rather than occupying high positions. They look for competence and consensus in a team. They lived in a time of capitalism, so hard work and productivity are the most important for them.
Millennials, those born in the 80s and 90s
More than eight million people and, according to El País, it is estimated that by 2025 they will reach 70% of the workforce. This generation was born in one of the most prosperous and abundant times compared to the previous generation, which impelled its enterprising spirit and the belief of “everything is possible”. They are critical, nonconformist and demanding. They entered the working market revolutionizing the practices that were known until then; they work to live and not the other way around: for them, family and leisure are more important than work. In addition, they were born when the technological evolution reached its establishment, which gave them the possibility of flexible or remote work, even if that new freedom meant to earn a bit less money. Used to rapid and constant change, they are able to reinvent themselves at the same pace, and they also demand their companies to provide them with growth and learning in the same way.
This generation has great capacity for adoptation to change, and are used to switching from one company to another every one or two years. For them, the promotion in a team is determined by their skills and achievements, and not by the years worked in a company.
Regarding communication, they are accustomed to using email and instant messaging and a more informal tone.
The Z Generation, those born in the late 90s and early 2000s.
It is the last one to join the job market. They have been born completely in the digital era, so what for previous generations was a luxury, for them it is a necessity. They are used to the immediacy and constant changes, so it is sometimes difficult to get their attention. For them it is very important to enjoy life without having work interfering on their plans: working under their own rules and online it is a must for this generation.
All generations seek to be part of successful companies that encourage them to develop their skills and potential to the fullest. They want their talent to be recognized, their achievements to be rewarded and their effort and involvement in the team to be acknowledged.
How to manage such a diverse workforce?
- Understand the perspectives of each generation and get the best out of each one.
- Create a collaborative environment and encourage communication so they learn from each other.
- Be flexible and adjust your management strategy to the different work styles.
- Value your employees for their commitment to the company, their professional skills and achievements and not for their age.
Having a team with diverse personalities and experiences, brings more innovative and creative ideas. This can also enrich a company: Mixing the experience of Generation X with the enthusiasm and energy of millennials can have really brilliant outcomes. The key to improve the productivity of a multigenerational team, is to encourage their collaboration, interaction, and cooperation. Thus, the teams will be more effective, efficient and also more satisfied.