The Gen Gap has always been an interesting topic for debate. This peculiar problem extends beyond the realms of the household. Now, you know why your manager wears a long face when you want to work from home!
The Players –
- Boomers (1946 – 1964): The Boomers are usually those who believe in strong values and are often conventional in their approach. The tufts of grey are a symbol of their wisdom. Loyalty is their middle name and some of them might have been around since the inception of the organization. How many companies has your grandfather worked for? Most likely, just one! You have a boomer in your family.
- Gen-X (1968 – 1977): The middle men are often caught between embracing conventions versus coping up with the modern modus operandi. They are a testimony to work-life balance and might seem a little more cynical in comparison. But, wait, they can actually be the bridge.
- Millennials (1978 – Present): Millennials are the torch-bearers of teamwork. They are cool and open-minded and are instrumental in bringing new ideas to the table. They can also be a little aggressive when conventions are forced upon them.
But, hey, what fun is a workplace that lacks diversity? Every problem comes with a solution. Finding the right mix of oils to easen up that friction can be rewarding.
Bridging the Gap
- Be aware and respect the differences in working styles –
The Boomers enjoy traditional methods of work and are very hard working. They have an eye for detail and are methodical, meticulous and extremely organized.
The Gen-Xers enjoy challenges and like to work independently, but also look out for the balance between work and life.
The Millennials love innovations and experimenting with new ideas. They are tech-savvy and love flexible work hours, schedules and freedom at work. Not to forget that they are excellent team players and love working in teams.
- Bring a mix on the board –
All committees and panels established within the organization must include members from the three generations. This will help ensure that there is representation from across the groups and the ideas are diverse. The experience and expertise of the Boomers in combination with the enthusiasm and novelty from the Millennials can pave the way for several innovations.
- Communication is the key –
The Boomers prefer meetings and phone calls and are slowly adapting themselves to email. Send them a message on whatsapp and they might even take offense. They strongly believe in formal communication.
The Gen-Xers tend to refresh their email more often than the auto refresh. Their email response time is so quick and they have their official emails configured on all their devices, ranging from their iPhones, personal laptops, official macbooks and so on. They are slowly evolving and trying to use instant messaging services.
The Millennials are open to all forms of communication. They have accounts on every social networking site available and do not prefer being restricted to a single form of communication. They even believe that leaves can be announced on facebook.
Developing a strategy that would help members from all generations to communicate can be a daunting task. But, once the stage is set, everything else will fall in place.
- Feedback and Recognition –
The Boomers believe that feedback is given only when a milestone is reached. Any intermediate feedback might cause worry. They also prefer their recognition to be quantified. A yearly incentive and promotions that could help them reach the top rungs of the ladder will satisfy the Boomers.
The Gen-Xers and Millennials prefer continual and immediate feedback. Gen-Xers also like being recognized with tangibles that include bonuses, pay-rises and promotions. But, an occasional voucher from Amazon would make them feel younger and more connected to the Millennials.
The Millennials love gift cards and vouchers. A simple pat on the back for every good job done, can really boost their confidence and motivation levels.
- Tailor-made work schedules –
It is important to proffer employees with flexible work hours in order to bring in that balance in their life. Organizations that support and accommodate employees’ flexibility needs, often see happier employees.
Boomers who are about to retire in the next few years might feel the need to reduce their work hours in exchange for a reduced pay. However some Boomers may expect to adapt personal schedules to the needs of the organization. The Gen-Xers may need to attend to their family and take a few hours off to attend a performance recital of their children and decide on working some extra hours to compensate.
Millennials might often want to volunteer part time at organizations or pursue a professional degree program in order to equip themselves better. The organization should if possible sponsor their educational aspirations in part or full, or at the least support them by offering a flexible work routine.
Now that we can bridge the gap, watch out Millennials, it may not be too long before the Boomers start sending out smileys!