4 Strategies to Bridge the Generational Divide

4 Strategies to Bridge the Generational Divide

By 2020, there will be five generations in the workforce spanning more than a century. And, each generation brings a new wave of skills, values, and workplace expectations.

Because of these differences, leaders may struggle to construct a work environment that appeals to all generations and instead may favor one at the expense of the other. However, it’s been proven that businesses with a diverse and well-balanced workforce outperform their non-diverse counterparts.

If you’re looking to bridge the generational divide at your company, here are four strategies to get you started.

1. Utilize cross-generational project teams

Forming diverse project teams is one of the best ways to leverage individual strengths. Where one person’s skills fall short, another’s in-depth experience pays off. Considering a variety of different viewpoints and ways to approach a problem will help to ensure you have a well thought out plan of action. This also gives employees the opportunity to work with and learn from their colleagues who they may not interact with on a day-to-day basis.

2. Incorporate a variety of communication channels

Perhaps one of the biggest differences between generations is their preferred communication style. Baby Boomers are used to scheduling meetings and talking on the phone whereas Millennials and even Gen X have adapted to and prefer instantaneous digital communication channels like Slack, Google Hangouts and other instant messaging apps. By incorporating multiple channels into your internal communications’ toolbox, workers of all ages can feel comfortable and accounted for.

3. Implement a mentoring program

Mentoring has been proven to aid in career development and help build leadership skills. A great way to foster communication and understanding between employees of different generations is to implement a formal mentoring program. Instead of one employee taking on the role of mentor and the other of mentee, try creating an equal partnership where each person gets to learn from and teach the other.

4. Personalize your management style

Don’t view your management style as a one size fits all approach. Get to know your employees – what motivates them, what kind of feedback they respond to – and tailor your approach accordingly. Different things resonate with different generations and your employees will appreciate you taking the time and effort to realize that.

The Bottom Line

While managing a generationally diverse workforce has its challenges, it’s also a great opportunity to leverage the different skills, experiences, and perspectives of these individuals. Creating an inclusive and accepting workplace regardless of age is key to attracting and retaining quality talent well into the future.