According to a Harvard Business Review, Millennials have now accounted for nearly half the employees in the world! 1 Truly, this statement makes us cringe on the inside just a little. It is inevitable to become alarmed by this thought when we are witnessing knowledgeable experts on the verge of retiring and novice younger professionals on the side lines.
The generational gap continues to be a huge challenge in the industry, and rather than ignoring this struggle, thinking and acting in unison can help us confront the situation and ultimately bridging the gap.
CHALLENGES IN THE WORKPLACE
Each company across the industry can present its own set of unique challenges. Factors that tend to exist in the workplace can be, difference in work values, loss of expertise, inability to transfer skillset, and change resistance.
The most significant contributor to the generational conflict is the difference in work values.2 Work values basically set the standards of what generations consider “important.” Baby boomers, for example, tend focus more on morals, social movement, and analytical thinking. On the other hand, Millennials might focus more on compensation, theory, work-life balance, and a comfort zone level, which can generate a lack of initiative.
We are also being faced with the loss of knowledge due to phase outs from experienced professionals. Meanwhile, younger and less experienced generations are filling these roles and expected to perform at a high standard.
Resistance to change creates a huge regression in growth making modifications of perspectives or operations very difficult between generations, even when it comes to how to manage the people across generations.
It is imperative to observe and understand how each generation operates to learn what they truly value.
START WORKING IN HARMONY
Identify the diverse work values
Detect the different work values and challenges present in your workplace to begin understanding your employees. Start asking what you expect from one another and what is vital in their work life. Baby boomers can slowly start blurring the experience line and integrating millennials in the decision-making process in order to build up connection and spark curiosity on what they need to learn to progress. By building trust, a sense of being valued will increase on both ends. This way younger generations can become loyal, take ownership of their role, and enhance their efforts to overachieve.
Impulse education and information-sharing
Training is the biggest contributor in developing important skills and analytical thinking in younger generations. Consider teaching values that are difficult to be learned in a classroom. Pass along information that would be considered completely lost if experienced employees would leave or retire. Senior employees have to create opportunities to expose segments of the business that a lower tier employee wouldn’t have otherwise known. There will be times in which the younger generation might also advise or provide feedback to the older generation. The coaching can become mutual, incentivizing all generations to be open to learning from the strengths of one another.
Create new training approaches
Increased interaction between generations is an effective way to narrow that gap. Mentoring sessions involving senior level executives can accelerate the career growth of a younger employee. Get younger professionals involved in projects that will push them out of their comfort zones to develop the necessary skills to replace senior levels at a faster rate. Appoint leaders that will be predisposed to facilitating the mentoring structure. Indeed, certain personalities might be more prone to mentoring than others, nevertheless, this is an area were seniority can also get out of their comfort zone to learn and adapt new work values.
Group mentoring can help generate insightful feedback and strategies from one group to the other for solutions to challenges. Two heads are better than one, right? Or shall we say…two generations are better than one.
The success of a company will be attributed to the consistency and quality of its workforce, and these modifications can help build it more efficiently from the ground up, enhancing skillsets that can improve business operations. There is an opportunity for growth from older to younger, and vice versa. Harmony between generations can lead up to a better work-life balance. We’ll find that it is no surprise that tasks would be able to be delegated more evenly. By understanding each other’s position, work input, and expectations, the work quality and individual performance will follow.
We can fathom that the shift will not be from day to night, but by starting to acknowledge the challenges in your workplace is a tremendous step. Be certain that the spirit and wisdom of an experienced leader can turn a young professional into a true legacy.