Workplaces are made up of people of all different ages – this means working styles and outlooks often differ.
So how can you help bridge the generation gap in your office for a more productive and melodious work environment?
The two main groups in the workplace, between which friction often arises, are Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1965) and Millennials (born between 1980 and 1995), with Generation “X”-ers falling somewhere in the middle.
Baby Boomers, who work hard for long hours and consider more money to mean more success, often consider Millennials to be lazy, over-sensitive and unrealistic. But Millennials sometimes find Baby Boomers to be old-fashioned and harsh.
Can’t everyone just get along?
The problem between these two groups is a stark difference in outlook. While both Baby Boomers and Millennials are hungry for success, their approaches to getting it are completely different – as are their notions of success itself.
Millennials like to work remotely, as it is important to them to be given the freedom to do their work in a way and setting which suits them. They, unlike the more direct Baby Boomers, like to converse over digital platforms like text or even Twitter. Baby Boomers like to speak face to face, and work from the office so that they can switch off when they leave at the end of the day.
Part of the problem is a lack of understanding. There are various ways you can help foster acknowledgement and understanding between the generations, including:
1. Bi-directional mentoring. This sounds more intense than it is. It’s been found to be very beneficial to pair up members of both groups and from different levels of seniority to learn from each other. This helps foster collaboration and friendship between Baby Boomers and Millennials and acknowledge the benefits of their respective approaches to business.
2. Introduce an intranet. This is a company site or platform which allows for the sharing of news, project updates and documents, and where employees can chat formally or informally. It’s essentially where everyone can keep up to date with everything business-related, from what stage of the process a certain project is in to where everyone’s meeting for drinks on Friday evening.
3. Offer incentives that appeal to everyone. These can be as little as ordering in lunch for a mixed team working hard to get a project done. Offering little rewards that appeal to employees of any age helps teams work together to reach a shared goal, and helps build friendship, trust and recognition for good work along the way.
4. Think about the office layout. If everybody’s sitting along long, partitioned desks that resemble those in a call centre, it doesn’t exactly allow communication lines to stay open, and instead encourages people to stick to themselves in the comfort of their desk space. Think about modernising your office and go for open, round tables, or even install some chat pods where people can go to relax and catch-up to break up their day.