5 Tips for Navigating a Multigenerational Workplace

In 2023, multigenerational workplaces are the norm, not the exception. 

As of 2018, a Pew research study of the U.S. labor market showed a spread across five generations:

  • Members of the silent generation (born 1928-45) represented 2% of workers
  • Baby boomers (1946-64) represented 25%
  • Generation Xers (1965-80) represented 33%
  • Millennials (1981-96) represented 35%
  • Generation Zers or post-millennials (born after 1996) represented 5%

With employees of different age groups all under one roof, it can be difficult to find the balance between implementing new strategies and respecting different approaches. 

By understanding the distinct characteristics of each generation, you can work to create a productive and harmonious work environment for everyone. Follow these five tips to navigate a multigenerational workforce.

1. Create Trust Through Check-Ins

The best way to build a relationship with any colleague is to develop and build trust. No matter their age, reach out to everyone on your team with the same level of respect. Reinforcing shared expectations fosters trust, which can be cultivated through regular check-ins: both one-on-one with employees, in team environments, and company-wide. You don’t need to overwhelm your colleagues with meetings, but check-ins like these help everyone get to know and understand each other on a more personal level.

2. Be Ready to Clear Up Miscommunications

Easily the biggest obstacle to work through for co-workers of multiple generations, is the large difference in preferred communication styles and methods. For example, older generations might view a period as a necessary part of a sentence - even with chat-style communication - while younger generations may view periods in these types of communications as passive-aggressive. Likewise, younger people are more likely to want to communicate via text and chat while those who are older may opt for a phone call.

These types of preferences may lead to misunderstandings - and that’s ok. As mentioned above, checking in regularly helps ensure that everyone feels a part of the same team and helps to reinforce interpretation of messages with the best faith intentions. That being said, miscommunications might still take place. The important part is recognizing these barriers, and moving forward without ill will. 

3. Know Trends, But Avoid Stereotypes

When speaking about certain age groups, it’s easy (and often necessary) to apply broad generalizations. However, it’s important to remember that your employees are a diverse group, with individual experiences and desires that don’t always align. Don’t make assumptions about others based on their generation. Listen to what they have to say, how they interact with each other, and what they prioritize.

Likewise, don’t dismiss ideas based on generation. When COVID hit, many businesses assumed their boomer and gen x employees wouldn’t want to stay remote based on generational stereotypes - but the opposite has been true in many cases. Knowing trends is helpful, but shouldn’t be the stopping point.

4. Have an Equitable Employee Recognition Program

When creating an employee recognition program, it’s important to keep diversity, equity and inclusiveness (DEI) initiatives in mind. This includes generational differences as well. Creating an equitable recognition program means that all personnel have a reasonable chance to be recognized and rewarded, without limitations from factors outside of their control.

A great example of what not to do in this regard is attendance-based rewards. While the impulse to reward attendance is understandable, it’s often not equitable. Is it fair to those with children, disabilities, or other factors that require them to use more of their PTO and time off? Consider what message you might actually be sending by rewarding perfect attendance.

QRG designs dynamic, equitable employee recognition programs that motivate and inspire. 

➨ Related Content: QRG's Recognition Solutions

5. Motivate With Meaningful Rewards

Finally, while merchandise incentives are popular with all generations, the types of rewards that are preferred will certainly differ amongst potential recipients. 

Going back to the point about stereotypes - this is where getting to know employees' individual perspectives is vital. You’ll likely find overlaps of interests across all generations. This will help give a much better jumping-off point for identifying merch that provides value, rather than just relying on standard rewards like trophies and pens.

➨ Related Content: Increase Productivity with Merchandise Incentives

Navigating a multigenerational workplace can be tricky, but it’s also very rewarding. While it presents inherent challenges, it offers a chance for many voices and perspectives to be heard. With proper guidance, understanding, and motivation, an age diverse workplace can bring about the best qualities of all generations and create an optimal environment for success.

Leverage the Power of Recognition

Our meaningful recognition solutions can help strengthen connections between employees and employers which creates a strong sense of community, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty. Check out QRG’s recognition and retention solutions and contact an account executive for help starting a program at your company.

Unlock the Power of Recognition

QRG is a customer-driven, single-source commercial printer, branded merchandise agency, and direct marketing firm tailored to meet your business goals. Our corporate identity solutions create deep connections with a lasting impact on your audience. Learn more about how it works and check out our website for more information.

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