Mastering Multigenerational Communication In The Workplace
The topic of generational diversity has launched a tsunami of observation, documentation, investigation, speculation and research in the last 20 years. The emergence of digital media technology has made it possible to disseminate the differences between generational behavioral characteristics in panoramic detail. However, knowledge alone will not meld the schisms that exist between one generation to another. It is possible this scrutiny has even fueled some subtle fires of prejudice between generational members.
Spherexx has five generations working side by side right now, and we are working constantly to present the best communication workflow to optimize performance across generational barriers.
How many times have we heard or said something like, "That’s a millennial for you!" to a perplexed baby boomer employer when a prospective employee arrives wearing shorts and flip-flops to an interview? Putting aside preconceptions takes concentrated effort after being exposed to a barrage of misinformation or partial inundation of facts.
Studying measurable facts is a good beginning for laying the groundwork to adopt better multigeneration communication within your corporate culture and daily workflows.
Know The Facts
For the purpose of this study, we are using Pew Research Center’s age definition of generations:
Millennials represent the largest workforce group as of 2015. The research also reports that the workforce of Americans age 55 and over is in a steady upward trend, projected at 24.3% in 2020. The aging baby boomers and Gen Xers are not going gentle into that good night, which lays a foundation of a dynamic workplace environment soon to be populated by five generations.
By 2026, millennials will make up the majority of the workforce, yet one-quarter of the workforce will still be represented by Gen Xers plus boomers, who are projected at 13 million in 2024. These statistics have spurred forward-thinking leaders to research how generations are alike and different, with the goal of maintaining peace and high productivity in their companies.
We believe we have had some successes in communicating across generations by first informing our leaders and mentors about the differences between the generational characteristics. Then, we practice those preferred communication methodologies while balancing a respect for the differences in each generation, along with individual learning styles of the employee.
A research survey with 18,000 participants from 19 countries discovered leadership motivational employment factors for generations X, Y and Z. This study is very enlightening for establishing motivational communications between the current and emerging generations.
This research tells us that all are motivated by money, a desire for leadership and flexibility, and they all somewhat feel the need to fit in. Members of Gen X, Y and Z crave a sense of leadership, but none more than Gen Y (77%). But it's Gen Z's choices that indicate a high trend in entrepreneurial endeavors. Gen X and Y desire to mentor others, Gen Y and Z are looking forward to more virtual reality tools in the workplace, and all rate current technology in the workplace as lacking.
A Good Beginning
Consider what current forms of your corporate communications support these shared motivations. How can you promote a greater sense of leadership, create a more flexible working environment, reduce stress, improve technology and establish a mentorship program?
We launched Spherexx in 2000 with flexible working hours, which is a big attraction to all our staff members — we only require that deadlines are met and that everyone operates within established, written policies. Our organization is flat, but we have long tenured employees that are influencers that work to nurture others.
We have found that setting aside times to have fun together with bi-monthly updates on what each division has accomplished naturally improves communication, as does nurturing team support around charity activities and socializing events.
Sue Whitener, Human Resources Consultant, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, sums up the best point for beginning to better generational communication:
“First of all, create an environment of mutual respect and uphold the directive. Help employees to better understand each other’s differences, recognize different communication preferences and how to best support your organization. It is always important to ask employees what their desired method of communication is and fit your initiatives into your findings. Study the characteristics of generational behavior and remember that cusp-born members will often share characteristics of both generations. Never forget that each person is an individual and must be treated accordingly.”
As a leader in your working environment, first examine what prejudice may lurk in your own perspective and work through it for the better good. Otherwise, it will ultimately manifest and it will become permissible, if not preferential, to those who follow you either by position or influence. Begin with the Golden Rule. orignal
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