Today companies have to deal with three, sometimes four, different generations working together; it means that three, or four, different mindsets collide; everyone sees the workplace in their own way. They learn, interact and communicate according to the generation they belong to. That means the managers and supervisors of the company need to come up with a strategy to guide and control their employees according to their generation, because one management style would not be appropriate to deal with intergenerational employees.
Dealing with different generations represents a challenge to companies today, which have to accommodate their policies and employee approach in order to recruit and maintain their personnel; hence the benefits valued by one generation will not necessarily be motivating to another. So, how do companies deal with the gap? According to the article “How to Manage Different Generations”, published in The Wall Street Journal, the main important thing is “is to be able to effectively address and take advantage of the differences in values and expectations of each generation”, simply put managers must treat each employee according to their generation, they must communicate in the way that best agrees with the person, talking with formality to a Baby Boomer and perhaps more relaxed to a Millennial.
Companies must be flexible with their employees and offer different options for each when it comes to learning, and interacting. For a Baby Boomer, structure is important they were raised in a time where hierarchies were important and greatly respected, that is not so much the case with Generation Y, who prefer a flat organizational hierarchy and open door concept “Millennials generally don’t work well under rigid management structure”[i], and the better the company understands this, the more chances they will have in creating a good organizational climate.
Moreover companies should combine different generations and have them work together in order to take advantage of their different strengths, in that way the company can stay competitive ensuring an efficient and effective team. According to Carol Hymowitz in the article “Managers Find Ways To Get Generations To Close Culture Gaps”, an IBM manager paired a young Millennial in his twenties to work with a Baby Boomer, they were motivated by the manager “to pool their strengths rather than to get into a tug of war about whose talents were more vital”, and as a result “the two employees got the product launched in a record three months”. What goes to prove that the most productive way for companies to deal with the Generational Gap is to combine the strengths of both generations and canalizing it to serve the company’s best interest.
Finally companies must adapt their benefits to the interest of each generation; businesses today offer a great variety of innovative benefits to their employees, but they have to make sure that those perks are not only targeted to Millennials. A young person would probably enjoy a lounge room with games to relax between meetings, but that probably does not do the trick for someone from Generation X or a Baby Boomer, who would most likely rather having flexible hours or an excellent health plan.
Companies today must adapt to each generation making the necessary adjustments to make sure that their employees feel valued, and comfortable no matter the generation they belong to. That is surely a challenge, but not an impossible task. Managers just have to understand the differences and adapt to them, treating every generation according to their mindset and assuring that they respect their difference and work around them.
[i] “How to Manage Different Generations.” Management RSS. The New York Times, n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2016.