We have generational gaps at home, so it’s no surprise that most offices these days have a generation gap in the workplace.
You have people who have 30-40 years into their careers and those who have just gotten out of college.
There are bound to be issues and clashes with ideology, methodology and even workplace culture and ethics. The following are common clashes and how to deal with them:
1. Styles of Communication
The older members prefer emails and phone calls, whereas the young working force prefers text messages and sometimes even Whatsapp to get messages across. In fact, there’s also an issue regarding the language and abbreviations the younger workers may use.
What to do
Establish standards of communication, or communicate as per the preference of the person you want to get in touch with.
The stereotype of old generations being rigid and ‘too traditional’ and that of the younger ones being ‘lazy’ and ‘technology obsessed’ is exactly that, a stereotype. We make judgements on a daily basis and this shows up in the work place too. And that increases a generation gap in the workplace.
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What to do
Establish ‘mentoring’ meetings or groups. Involve the two generations in projects together so they bridge the gaps and get to know each other.
3. Work Culture
Kids these days want to be able to have a life outside of the office. They don’t want long working hours but rather they want to focus on getting the work done and getting time off whenever they can. The older generations of Baby Boomers and Gen X prefer a work-life balance which often means a 9-5 job, 5 days a week.
What to do
Provide options to either work rigid hours or productivity. Let employees leave early if they have finished all their work and have no pending deadlines.
4. Rewards and Feedbacks
Older generations usually prefer that their work is recognised and they get a yearly pay raise. They also prefer hierarchy in the office. Younger workers want immediate rewards for the work they do.
What to do
To reduce a generation gap in the workplace, Give them regular feedback based on what you think they would prefer. In fact ask them if you can! It’s best to let your employees know they are valued so give them all a boost with occasional benefits.
Other tips for bridging the generational gap
- Let go off the rigid office structure and introduce informality. This will lead to a more relaxed work environment.
- Assign teams and promote collaboration within the office so there are more exchanges and communication.
- Provide opportunities for further training to keep employees engaged and to help them learn and grow further in their fields.
- Embrace technology and promote its use in the workplace. Technology is a huge part of the world today and it’s essential at the work place.
- Mentoring groups are necessary, and they work both ways! The younger employees can help the older generations keep up with technological changes. This can even be done through open workshops in which employees talk about the advancements that the office should patronise.
- Permit all employees to voice their concerns through monthly office meetings or similar feedback discussions.
- Focus on the work done, not the age.
It can be quite stressful and fun to work alongside people who are much older than you are. The key to a peaceful work environment is communication and interaction. It’s easier to work with people you know and have talked to! It’s time to bridge the generational gap.