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Get with the times: How to manage a multigenerational workforce

Two men conversing outside

It’s not uncommon these days to have a wide age gap between your employees. Many businesses these days have an employee age range which spans across three generations – the Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y (or the Millennials).

While each generation brings a distinct set of values, insights and expertise to the workplace, it can be difficult to effectively manage such a wide range of personalities, opinions, and upbringings.

Sometimes, the clash of generations even results in employee dissatisfaction – for example, a Baby Boomer may feel disgruntled if their superior is decades younger than them, and it’s up to you to ensure you don’t lose that employee.

This new, multigenerational workplace, if not managed properly, can cause unrest in the business. Here are four ways you can better manage a multigenerational workforce.

1. Understand there will be generational gaps

Fundamentally, understanding the generational traits will better your ability to manage a multigenerational team. Each generation grew up in vastly different contexts, so this is the first step to great staff management.

For example, Baby Boomers are more likely to seek stability and value work-life balance, while Millennials who have grown up in an era of career instability, fierce competition, social media and the “me” mentality, are more inclined to seek opportunities for rapid career development and growth.

If you can unlock and understand the unique traits and experiences of each generation, you’re one step closer to a cohesive team.

2. Manage performance and keep them rewarded

No matter which generation your employees are from, all of them will appreciate personalised feedback and rewards for good performance.

A standardised performance management procedure within the business which clearly documents assessment criteria and KPIs will make it easier for you to track individual performance and offer feedback which is pertinent to them. It will also make it easier to recognise and reward good performance while addressing underperformance.

Rewards for performance may differ between generations, and understanding that will boost employee loyalty. While Baby Boomers might value extra time off to spend with family, Millennials may feel rewarded with an assignment above their current role which allows them to expand skills and experience.

3. Communicate job roles and expectations

Although it’s the younger generation who are most voracious about climbing up the ladder quickly, it also pays not to neglect Baby Boomers’ and Gen Xs’ desires for career development. Therefore, it’s a good idea to regularly review and update employment contracts with clear job descriptions and role guidelines, and have discussions with your employees about their career.

Having regular discussions and a system to manage job satisfaction and get a sense of employees’ expectations is crucial to the business. While it might be difficult to have career progression conversations with your employees, by ignoring it you risk the departure of highly talented experts and potential leaders for your business.

4. Remember, one size does not fit all

The bottom line is, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to managing a multigenerational workforce. Why? Because even within specific generations, each employee is unique and operates differently. While it’s widely accepted that Millennials display work traits such as independence, seeking new challenges and flexibility at work, there will also be Millennials who like to play by the book.

With all these different generational contexts and personalities at play, you need to think about how to make the management process easier for yourself – and making sure your administration and HR procedures are systemised and up to date is one of the easiest ways to go about that.

Managing a multigenerational workforce can be tricky. However, if done properly, the wide age range in your employee circle creates amazing opportunities for collaboration and synergy, while giving your business a competitive edge.

Your employees are your business’ biggest asset – so understand them and make them happy.

About the author:

MIKKI_SILVERMAN-19This article was written by Mikki Silverman, CEO of DiffuzeHR.