Workforce Management

Working with Five Generations in the Workplace

By Erin Boettge

Working With Five Generations in The Workplace

Over the last couple of years, organizations have focused heavily on millennials in the workplace and how to merge these new workers with the existing generations. Everyone’s been so distracted trying to figure out millennials that they haven’t even noticed the newest generation getting ready to burst onto the professional scene.

What can we expect from this up and coming generation? And how are we supposed to potentially manage five generations in the workplace at one time? First, we need a better understanding of the youngest generation, or as we call them, Generation Z.

Generation Z is the youngest generation, born after the late 90’s or the early 2000’s. They’re an important segment, making up more than a quarter of the U.S. population. Here are some facts about the generation that will give you a little context…

Generation Z

  • They have always had access to the internet, and Google.
  • They get their news from The Daily Show or social media.
  • Stardom can be instant, and they can be famous for being famous.
  • They’ve never licked a postage stamp.
  • Technology is nothing new, they have always had PCs, smartphones and tablets.

Just as there was a major shift between Generation X and Millennials, there’s likely to be just as big a shift with the new Generation Z.

This generation is more connected to their parents than any other before them, and because of the economic turmoil they’ve seen in their short lives, they’re more likely to save money and avoid debt. They’re educated, industrious, collaborative, and eager to improve their world. They’re less likely to settle for a 9-to-5 job.

So how are you supposed to successfully manage Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials and Gen-Z?

Start by trying to understand the socioeconomic climate that each generation grew up in. Some have witnessed primarily prosperity, some great economic downturn and some, like Gen-Z, mostly turmoil. These factors have a huge effect on how the generations were raised, and how they expect to be treated.

Next, be sensitive to how each generation works best. Some may prefer more guidelines, and others may want flexibility. Try surveying employees and providing the type of structure they’re looking for.

Make sure to keep the lines of communication open for all generations. It will be your job to help facilitate communication between groups to avoid any potential miscommunication. Never before has the workplace seen such a wide span of age groups. Communication will be key to ensure productivity.

Lastly, embrace it! A large generational span means you get both a more traditional and a more modern point of view on every task. Utilize the strengths of each generation and view diversity as an asset rather than a hindrance. Work to raise awareness in your organization about diversity in the workplace.

For a more in-depth breakdown of the generations and how to manage them, check out our video series from the BizLibrary Collection.

Enjoy these 1-minute previews on “Working with Five Generations in the Workplace” below:

Working with Different Generations
The Gen Xers
Erin Boettge researches and writes on a variety of business topics, including workplace dynamics, HR strategies, and training trends and technology.