There are now five generations in the workplace, and while much focus has been on the potential for conflict and miscommunication between generations, a new study reports on some positive impacts of age diversity—increased innovation and problem solving! Among U.S. respondents, 87% said that a multigenerational workforce increases innovation and problem solving.
The global study, released by Randstad US, also found that about 90% of respondents indicated that they preferred having colleagues of varying ages and saw this diversity as beneficial.
Respondents, especially younger respondents (those between 25 and 34), say the age of their managers is not that important to them; however, most prefer managers who are their age or older. Overall, they feel their direct managers do a good job of working with various generations (83%).
The study did, though, support the commonly held belief that communication between generations can be a challenge; 81% said that communication style is the primary difference between generations, with 38% indicating that they find it difficult to communicate with those not in their age group. This is particularly true among men (49%) compared to women (27%).
Addressing Communication Challenges
In a press release, Jim Link, CHRO for Randstad North American, said, “Part of the challenge of managing effectively is knowing how to relay your message, which requires understanding the individual communication styles of the people on your team and how they approach their work.”
Randstad also offers some advice for managers on effectively managing in a multigenerational workforce in its report “Managing a Multigenerational Workforce: 3 Best Practices.” The three best practices include:
- Developing the next generation of leaders from members of the Millennial generation. They represent the largest segment in the workforce today and the natural leaders of tomorrow. Are you providing them with the leadership development opportunities they will need to succeed?
- Tailor training to each generation’s needs. Your Baby Boomer staff members may respond better to different forms of training than your Millennial or Gen Z populations. Be alert to these generational differences.
- Use mentorship programs to bridge generational gaps and help build relationships. Keep in mind, too, that reverse mentoring (where younger generations mentor their more senior colleagues) can also provide benefits.
With several generations in the workforce—a situation that is likely to continue for some time—it’s important to take steps to identify the best leadership practices to help all success. Randstad’s report offers some key insights.