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November 6, 2018 By Jen Mathews

How You Can Bridge the Generation Gap at Your Workplace

November 6, 2018

By Jen Mathews

Read More from Jen Mathews

November 6, 2018

How You Can Bridge the Generation Gap at Your Workplace

By Jen Mathews
Senior Public Relations Manager

Today’s office is a mash-up of many generations working alongside each other. And with millennials to baby boomers working side by side companies are now seeing a variety of different work styles and needs. While baby boomers may be used to the 9-5 in the office, millennials are asking for remote working policies and flexible hours, and the millennial voice is becoming increasingly louder. According to studies, eight-hour shifts are in decline with one in five “office” workers now working remotely at least part of each week.

In fact, 57 percent of modern American office workers studied now have the ability to work remotely, if they choose to. This means there are more remote teams and fewer face-to-face interactions. With such an environment, there comes a risk for conflict that can adversely impact workplace happiness and satisfaction.

Identifying Differences

According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are more millennials (83.1 million) than baby boomers (75.4 million). Of the millennial population, approximately 44 percent are part of a minority or ethnic group.

Rutgers University study found that conflict often pops up between these groups because of upbringing. Older and younger generations were raised differently and so they have different values and motivations. Those values shape how people approach work and the goals they set.

No generation is right or wrong of course. People just do things differently. The solution is to identify strategies that help build common ground. Here are some of them.

Reverse Mentoring

First, employ reverse mentoring where older employees are mentored by younger team members. This can deepen understanding about individual expertise and clear misconceptions people have about each other.

For example, younger workers can share coding tips or conduct technology training. This helps transform frustration into satisfying interactions that expand each person’s skill set, which only helps the organization in the end. Older workers can also offer invaluable advice in many areas because of the knowledge and wisdom they’ve built over years in the workforce.

Get In Face to Face Time

These days millennials and workers even younger than them often prefer to interact through instant messaging or email. Misunderstandings can and do arise out of this. Older remote team members may be accustomed to non-verbal cues received during face-to-face discussions and the person’s tone on the telephone to determine meaning. If the older remote worker has not met the millennial team member, they may reach a different conclusion than intended.

Even in team members aren’t located in the same office, host a weekly check-in through a platform like join.me to put a face and personality to those words. These visual interactions involve screen sharing, which can fill in the blanks for older and younger workers alike.

Learn and Value

Although generation gaps exist, they shouldn’t be the focus. Instead, identify individual value and embrace the internal strengths that enrich the organization. Get to know each other through the more personalized interaction that mentoring, video conferencing, and teamwork offers. It will blur generation gaps and deliver a competitive advantage.

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