You are likely to receive four different responses.
Why are these four answers VERY different? This is because the current workforce consists of four generations.
These four generations are very unique in a work environment. Employers often find it a struggle to get them to communicate and work together effectively. Generation Y does what it is told, but at the same time just wants to go out that night or is multitasking to the last minute. If they work at a computer it is likely Facebook is open at all times. Veterans have been around for awhile and so they are continuing to do what works for them. Baby Boomers are all about efficient working and accomplishing goals, and Generation Y does not want their work to go home with them and will work diligently so it does not. A good manager can appease every generational gap if he/she takes the time to learn about his/her employees. Not every person born in said years will fall into the characteristic niches, so individuality is very important when dealing with generational differences.
The ideal way to create unity in the workplace is to promote a fun environment but also a desire to get work done. Having typical office days of pure work is good, but don’t be afraid to host events and meetings. This gives employees of all ages the ability to socialize in a work environment but in a less formal way. Too much downtime could reflect poorly on those who like work to be just that, but too much work could cripple the spirit of those who like a little socialization in their week. Find the happy medium and emphasize talent and accomplishments of all employees so respect and credibility is gained throughout the company. All generations crave positive feedback. Being important is a good feeling!
Communication is the main barrier between the generations. Veterans grew up in a time when the main form of talking in the work place was with hand written memos. Don’t be fooled though. It was because they only had this method that they created the technology we use today! Baby Boomers are very team orientated and paved the way for Generation Y, while Generation X individuals are very self reliant. As for generation Y…well any form of electronic communication that’s fast and doesn’t create extra work is fine. Because of this, it is always good to have many different means of communication open. Team projects should be negotiated by the manager beforehand to solve how the team as a whole wants to meet.
Separating employees by generation is ill-advised. Everyone needs to be able to work together for a company to function. Putting like people in one group may seem like a way to get things done right, but it does not promote making bonds between employees. It is also likely to create more problems and clicks within the company. Clicks are for high school. Meshing the generations allows new talent and fresh ideas to be mixed with skill and experience. If the team is able to communicate properly, the work that comes out of this mix will greatly outweigh that of a single generation.
The best piece of advice is just to treat all employees with respect, give them all opportunities, and communicate effectively with them regardless of their age. No age discrimination means there is less of a chance that anyone will create a bias towards another employee. If team members cannot learn to work together because of generation gaps, it could just be that they are not a good fit for the company. A big part of loving a job is learning to work well with fellow employees. It is what keeps them sane on days that they might go into Incredible Hulk mode!
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