Managing generations in the workplace: tips for managers in multigenerational teams

Think about your staff, do you know their average age? Depending on your business, you could have employees aged 16 to 75! Every year we’re seeing our workforce get a little bit older as people delay retirement. Working with people of widely varying ages can prove to be a huge asset for businesses as new ideas and years of experience are combined. However, managers need to keep in mind that they can’t manage all generations the exact same way. Our Director of HR Operations, Jake Dufour, shares his tips for managing generations. 

Is Age Discrimination Still A Problem?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was enacted in 1967, more than 50 years ago! This act protects prospective and current employees aged 40 and older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or conditions/privileges of employment. Despite this, more than 6 in 10 workers over the age of 45 say that they have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace. Of those, 90 percent say that it is somewhat or very common. This means that age discrimination is not only happening, it’s downright prevalent in our current business culture. 

Jake tells us that there are several HR Strategies that can help to prevent age discrimination in the workplace. These include “assessing the organization’s internal culture, auditing your recruitment practices, training management and including age diversity as part of a greater diversity and inclusion program.”

The More Diversity The Better

When we say that diverse workforces are better, we mean total diversity, including all genders, races, and ages. Jake tells us “there is no question that more diverse businesses are more successful, and the same is true of age diversity.”

For the first time in history, there are 5 generations working side by side! People from their 20s through their 60s and older can work together at a business. Studies have found that productivity actually rises in teams made up of older and younger workers. Why? With an age diverse workforce, you automatically get multiple perspectives working on the same projects. Plus, with older workers you benefit from years of experience that can be shared with younger workers. When you have a company culture where inclusivity is key and differences are accepted and celebrated, you’ll easily be able to have multiple generations work together successfully.

Helpful Tips For Managing Generations

Managers may find themselves with subordinates that are significantly younger or older than they are, which can be tricky. It’s important to treat all employees with equal respect, but different generations may have different needs. Here are some of our best tips for managers working with an age diverse team:

  • Keep in mind the motivations and preferred communication, and learning styles of different generations. For example, many younger employees would prefer not to talk on the phone, where older employees would prefer a phone conversation rather than an email. 

  • Identify the unique skills and skill gaps of all your employees. Make sure you support employees by helping them get the necessary training and tools they need to be successful. 

  • Pairing workers of different ages together on a project can be helpful for both parties. Older workers can share their wealth of knowledge and connections with younger employees, and younger workers can share new techniques and skills. 

  • Accept extra communication training. Managers need to approach delicate conversations with care and ask the right questions. Make sure that you take communication training seriously!

  • Don’t dwell on differences. Managers should make an effort to identify shared values and build on commonalities that are shared between employees of all ages.

Getting your managers the training they need to manage generations is key to ensuring a workforce that can work well together! Contact us today to set up a consultation to explore how HR NOLA can boost your business. We love HR so you don’t have to!

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