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Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce

Working with a team of employees made up of a wide variety of ages can certainly have its benefits. But managing a multi-generational workforce also has its challenges. Here’s a look at the dynamics of a multi-generational team and how you can shift your management style to make the most of the team.

What is a Multi-Generational Workforce?

A team made up of individuals from different generations is bound to have some differences of opinion, work style, personalities, and motivational styles. Professionals of different ages always do. Rather than assume that because anyone individual belongs to a pre-defined generational group, focus more on the needs and skills of your individual team members. It’s relevant to expect younger team members to have more familiarity and comfort with the technology that they have grown up with. And it is likely that your older employees have more experience in the industry than those belonging to the younger generations.

But it’s not safe to assume that the skills and needs of your younger workers are all the same. Nor does that make sense for all your older workers. Recognizing that generational experiences and expectations may have some part to play in how they approach work is helpful, but don’t get lazy in your management efforts and assume that individual experiences and personalities don’t have an equally large part to play.

Challenges of Working With a Multi-Generational Workforce

One of the challenges of managing a multi-generational team is simply that each individual comes to the table with different expectations from you, the employer. Younger generations are likely to expect more engaging work experiences. Generation Z for example is notorious for ghosting employers or leaving jobs they don’t find rewarding or engaging. Older employees tend to treat jobs like a source of financial security and may be less likely to job hop as they have financial responsibilities that don’t allow them that flexibility. The bottom line is that you should take the needs of the individual into account and make sure you are speaking to the person, and not your interpretation of their generational expectations.

Tips for Making It Work

Tailor your Communication Style

Just as you would adjust your communication style with different coworker personalities, consider adjusting communication styles across generations within your team. For example, younger workers may be quicker to catch on to new media such as email or instant messaging services as they are already familiar with these tools in their daily lives. Older employees may be better communicated with in person or on the phone as they may be less familiar with the intricacies of more fast-paced communication tools. The key is to know the strengths of your staff and work with them for better communication.

Offer Mentorship Opportunities

Few things are more inspiring within the workplace than a mentor-mentee relationship. Young workers crave mentorship. As a manager, you can provide mentorship opportunities for your young staff by pairing them up with more experienced workers. Older generations also appreciate the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with others. Creating room for that mentor-mentee status on both ends of the generational spectrum will help motivate your workforce and encourage positive interactions between generations.

Evaluate your Compensation Strategy

It has been seen in recent years that while everyone appreciates being paid appropriately, younger workers are valuing non-financial compensation as well. Paid vacation, paid sick leave, good health care, flexible hours, and other benefits are attractive to younger generations who are committed to maintaining a good work-life balance. On the other hand, retirement planning and health care may also be of serious concern to your older workers. Evaluate the needs of your staff and customize their compensation as is helpful.


For more advice on building teams that work for you, connect with the experts at Bergman Brothers today!