Generational differences in the workplace

Every employer will in most cases have five very different generations of employees who have varying approach to how things should be done. As expected, you are required to provide a working environment that allows each of the generations to feel that they are part of the process despite having different opinions. So how do you achieve this to make sure that your business grows and your customers and clients receive the care they deserve?


Fact: the first and perhaps most prohibitive generational difference is the style of communication. Boomers would prefer to call a meeting every time while Gen X’s and Y’s prefer online modes of communication like Emails, conference calls and so on. Attending a meeting every mid-week feels like time and resource wastage to millennials.

Solution: the best solution to this problem is making sure the communications are available in different formats. This allows each generation to use what suits them best. You can use verbal for the traditionalists and email the Millennials.

Adapting to change

Fact: traditionalists and boomers are very resistant to change. They believe that things should be done in a certain way no matter how long that has been the tradition. Millennials, on the other hand, are highly receptive to change. They want to try out new things, tactics, and approaches to different problems. Ideally, because of the hard stance nature of traditionalists, this can be a catastrophic difference.

Solutions: the first and most important aspect is to show respect regardless of what you think is best for the business. This should flow from you the employer all the way down to the employees. With respect, employees will be able to articulate their ideas better and without the moral high ground.

It is also essential to make sure that the workplace is fact-based. Even though millennials might think that traditionalists are old and slow, those are assumptions. Sticking to facts and figures will allow the real issues on the table to be addressed without lighting emotional bonfires.

Technical skills

Fact: Given the current omnipresent relationship with technology, there are no surprises here. While traditionalists love the old tutor-led method of learning, millennials prefer collaborative and technology-driven learning. It is also expected that traditionalists would have an issue with the introduction of technology into the workplace while millennials welcome it with open arms.

Solutions: You should be able to clarify expectations of given projects and how you intend for them to be completed. When building teams, it is best to make sure that each person is assigned responsibilities that they are most comfortable with and that play to their strengths. Traditionalists shouldn’t feel like technology is taking over the working place but more of improving the working site.

They should be able to continue playing their roles and incorporating that with the technology-adept millennials.

Generational differences in your company can be a strength or a weakness based on the approach you take to resolve the challenge. It is not advisable at any one time to lean on either side but instead, have practical solutions that play to the strengths of all five generations.

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