In today’s workplace, it is possible that four different generations can be working side by side, creating unique issues and workplace dynamics. Addressing those challenges can be helped by understanding the unique traits and characteristics of each generation according to Krisann Hatch of the workplace consulting firm Archbright.
Hatch was recently in Colville to conduct a workshop hosted through the Tri-County Economic Development District called, “Managing Across the Generations.” Hatch noted that many employers have a wide range of ages in the workplace including those still working past retirement age and new teen workers coming to their first job. Because each generation has its own expectations and workstyle, the combination of ages can be both a plus and a minus.
“Each generation has something very positive to offer, but each also has its own challenges,” said Hatch.
Modern workplaces may have as many as four generations as part of the employee team including “traditionalists” (born between 1925 and 1945), Baby Boomers (born from 1946 to 1964), Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) and Millennials (born between 1981 and 2000).
For instance, older workers also known as the “traditionalist” generation that may prefer to defer to seniority in the workplace and expect a hierarchical structure of management.
The “traditionalists” are also very loyal to the organization, which can be a rub with Generation X employees who have a greater loyalty to self and want to debate to resolve workplace conflicts.
Baby Boomers may also have a serious rub with Millennials due to different expectations about the place of work in each individual’s life.
“The baby boomer generation is very strong in being able to be team-oriented and optimistic, but they are also workaholics. Millennials, on the other hand, expect flexible work schedules and a greater ability to telecommute as part of their employment,” Hatch said. “This can create some issues in the workplace, especially since the baby boomer generation tends to be in the management position.”
To help employers understand how to address these issues, Hatch offered opportunities during the workshop to discuss various workplace scenarios and how to address the potential conflicts between workers of various generations. She also had specific advice about how to manage the newest crop of employees, the Millennials. Understanding Millennials can help employers better recruit and retain this new generation of workers, according to Hatch.
Some of Hatch’s recommendations regarding managing Millennial workers included:
•Assign meaningful work that is personally meaningful, significant in the company and purposeful in the world.
•Respect the work/life balance that Millennials expect by offering telecommute options, flexible work hours, ample vacation and fair salary and health coverage.
•Build strong company values by involving employees in volunteering, matching employee donations to a non-profit group and highlight the company’s value in society.
•Nurture each person’s unique talents; ask for their ideas and listen to their goals.
•Show appreciation with written thank-you notes, public kudos, lunch or coffee meetings.
The Archbright company, based in Spokane, offers many trainings related to workplace issues, including on generational differences. For more information visit www.archbright.com
By Jamie Henneman/The Independent Staff