Inter-generational diversity – what is it?

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Inter-generational diversity – what is it?

Nov 20, 2019

The modern workplace is a complex discussion due to inter-generational diversity, where it has become common for people from three different generations to work simultaneously together. The most prominent of which are: Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1980) and Millennials (1981-2000). This has brought about many challenges. as these groups have different characteristics, mindsets and communication styles.

Baby Boomers are perceived to be hardworking and the best to manage in challenging times, but they are often considered the worst when it came to adaptability and being tech savvy. They are competitive and believe workers need to pay their dues to get recognition.

Members of Generation X are known for being sceptical, flexible and independently minded. They are often seen as a productive part of an organisation, with a good knowledge of technology and the ability to adapt to change. They do not like being micromanaged and prefer a hands-off management philosophy.

Millennials are perceived as being the most tech-savvy, having the best adaptability and being the best at displaying diversity. They often seek flexibility and have a strong desire to be promoted as fast as possible. Many do not think they are productive members of an organisation and are intimidated by their use of technology and self-expression.

What motivates one group can often differ from what motivates another, research has shown that cash is still king, but not always to the same degree, or for the same goals.

Baby boomers are known to be interested in rewards such as flexible retirement planning and recognition from their peers. Generation X are known to seek out bonuses and share incentives, whilst also placing a high value on flexible work schedules. Like Generation X, Millennials also place a high value on flexible work schedules and the potential for share incentives, but they are also motivated by opportunities for skills development and feedback from their superiors.

To get as much performance as possible and to enjoy the benefits that inter-generational diversity brings, managers need to become dynamic in how they approach each group. If they are to avoid conflict and ensure all parties are sufficiently motivated, these different perceptions and desires need to be effectively managed. A one size fits all approach simply doesn’t work.

To improve inter-generational performance, entities need to facilitate more cross-generational interaction. Younger employees need to be encouraged to seek out the experience and wisdom of older employees, and older employees should feel comfortable enough to approach younger employees and ask for advice with technology-based tasks. A good way to do this has been to create mentoring programmes where older and younger employees are paired together for certain tasks.

Another useful technique to improve cross-generational performance has been to introduce more and varied recognition programmes. Millennials and baby boomers alike are desperate to prove their worth and often feel like they are not being noticed if recognition of their achievements happens infrequently. By implementing programmes where employee achievements are recognised, even without a substantial incentive, motivation can be significantly increased.

Through taking account of inter-generational nuances when creating teams and formulating creative remuneration packages, an entity can build a highly motivated workforce, resulting in better profits and a better working environment for all.