Four Easy Ways Your Business Can Approach and Narrow the Generation Gap Amongst Employees

imageBy Sheryl Coonan

What comes to mind when you think “millennial?” How about “baby boomer”? Likely two very different comparisons.

Pew Research notes the millennial generation has now exceeded Generation X as the largest representation in the U.S. workforce. While fresh, new talent is often a plus for businesses, as newer generations join the working ranks a growing generational gap amongst these two groups, along with baby boomers, continues to take stage.

Although there are obvious benefits to employing a diverse workforce, such as like having unique and valuable perspectives, there can be challenges that come with a staff with a sizable age gap. Among these challenges are varying ideals, personalities, technology preferences and work habits.

Case in point: It's widely noted millennials tend to think their baby boomer colleagues are old school and lack the proper tech skills. At the same time, baby boomers may believe millennials are entitled and lack the proper motivation toward work.

Regardless of industry, there are some best practices businesses can put into play to approach the new generation gap. If your company is looking for ways to address this generation chasm, read on for some expert tips.

1. Capitalize on Cross-Generational Mentoring

Cross-generational mentoring is a tactic businesses in the know are finding valuable. For example, when a millennial is mentored by a baby boomer, he or she may pick up valuable interpersonal communication or in-person communication skills. On the other hand, when a baby boomer is mentored by a millennial, he or she may glean new technology skills including using social media, downloading specific smartphone apps and more.

2. Consider Your Workplace Teams' Desires

Bridging the gap between different generations in your workforce can be as simple as intermingling your teams with employees of all ages, skill levels and experience. The more time that diverse teams have to work together, the better they'll begin to understand — and likely respect — one another. Plus, this experience can often stymie perceptions that different generational employees have toward one another and reveal most employees share similar attributes.

3. Adopt Workforce Management Software

Another tactic construction firms and other companies find valuable is employing the proper workforce management software. This software can offer millennial employees, superintendents and management alike the self-service capabilities and on-the-go mobile connectivity they crave, along with smartphone app technology and interactive voice response systems.

Additionally, research indicates a link between the happiness of customer service agents and customers when companies decide to employ workforce management software. Therefore, employing workforce management tools that can keep employees engaged and productive is ideal for any workplace.

4. Rethink Your Work Structure

Many companies are benefiting from adjusting their work structure to the preferences of its employees. For example, by offering telecommuting or similar off-site work opportunities you allow employees to produce results based on how they work best without having to dictate how the actual work should get done.

This type of flexibility can work wonders not only for millennials and Gen Xers, but also for baby boomers alike. Plus, this flexible work structure allows for a better work-life balance. Furthermore, experts say, telecommuting options encourage older employees to stay on board with the company longer if they, too, have flexible workloads and working conditions.

Likewise, it’s important to consider your employees' various learning preferences, including traditional methodologies like books and online tutorials as well as on-the-job training and interactive onboarding exercises. Whatever their preference, the key is to keep employees engaged.

At the end of the day, employees representing different generations look at and approach work and life a bit differently. However, no matter their age or experience, everyone stands to learn a thing or two from one another.

Sheryl Coonan is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle writer, TV host and reporter from metro Detroit. She has worked in the print, digital and broadcast spaces for a variety of industries. When she's not writing, she loves to soak in the latest happenings in Hollywood or sweat it out in Bikram yoga.

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