by Erika Bodell, Director of Business Development, Tristarr Staffing
For the first time in the history of employment, we are seeing a workforce comprised of five (yes, five!) generations. Tim Elmore introduced the Chamber to the Post-War generation, the Baby Boomers, the Millennials, Gen X and Gen Z in a way we’ve never seen them before…within the workplace. Those companies who are navigating this successfully have “a leg” up on their competitors.
A – Ask Questions
L – Listen well
G – Guide
While the older (read – more experienced) generation may offer timeless insights, the younger generation provides timely intuition. By asking questions, and listening well, both ends of the generation gap will feel heard and their opinions validated. At a time when smart technology can bring us closer together, we are experiencing a time of unprecedented loneliness as we move from public to private screens. Empathy and guidance, in both directions, will allow the generations to adapt and collaborate, cohesively, in the workplace environment.
As the marketplace has evolved through the last century, so must our attitudes toward what it means to have a job or career. Tim was able to give a clear picture of how the marketplace has changed. Take, for instance, a birthday celebration. During the Post-War period, this was the first time where a consumer could purchase cake mix instead of baking from scratch. The Baby Boomers were then able to purchase a completely decorated cake for their parties. Enter Gen X and the desire to provide a birthday experience by going to a bowling alley. The Millennials chose to transform their homes into an interactive obstacle course while Gen Z is busy creating their own content and posting it to the world.
While these concepts may seem unfamiliar to the other generations, one can clearly see the transition from one to the other. Taking the time to understand the experiences and values each can bring to the table is key for a cohesive workplace. Mentoring between generations can be beneficial for both sides. The older employees can impart wisdom from years of trial and error. The younger folks are whizzes when it comes to technology and social media.
At a time when anxiety is at an all-time high among workers, it is important to remember three key factors for a successful, multi-generational workplace:
Humility – Realizing that there is always something to be learned.
Respect – Beginning with an attitude of belief, not skepticism.
Curiosity – Always striving to learn and not being afraid to ask questions.
Tim Elmore, and his panel of local businessmen and women, opened the conversation regarding age diversity within the workplace. Flexibility is key. Understanding that our father’s 9-5 is no longer relevant. Our workday has changed, our workplace has morphed and even our dress code is practically non-existent, but productivity is up. As we move forward, those who can continue the conversation will bridge the generational gap with ease and be ready for generations to come.