Baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials, Gen Z – With each passing decade a wave of new talent will enter the workforce. Depending on how you, as an organization view it, it will be a demographic dividend or a leader’s biggest challenge. Also, depending on which side of the lens you view it from, it will be a conflict to be managed or a collaboration to build upon.
That’s the dilemma for the leaders today – not to simply hire different generations or try to engage them. But to ensure that they find channels to work together in an effective manner. Let us see some ways to do this.
Be proactive and transparent
It is obvious that each generation has some unconscious biases and preconceived notions about the other. These will be related to their work values or styles, the way they communicate or the kind of motivation that drives them. As a leader, encourage them to become proactive in accepting these biases, and transparent in sharing how it has impacted their relationships at work. Your own actions will make a big difference. If you as a leader talk about how you spent time and effort in knowing and then consciously removing the biases from your decision-making processes, chances are that the other employees will do it too.
Be clear in your policies
Most companies have a clear guideline about how to be non-discriminatory and that any kind of preferential behavior will invite strict action. But more often than not, these cover the gender related discrimination only. What about a manager who refuses to promote an employee who is extremely capable for a role, but is young? Conversely, what about a manager who does not give a new project to an older employee because it involves some degree of re-skilling? Be clear in your policies about how such behavior is not conducive to business growth. Recognize leaders and employees who have demonstrated inclusive behavior irrespective of age-groups.
Invest in Diversity Training
Training mixed or multi-generational teams together is not over-rated. Organizations who invest in such trainings are able to sensitize each generation to the needs and motivations of the others. This is actually similar to a change management initiative because you want to create business impact by changing the culture that exists. The only way to bring different mindsets together at the workplace comes when there is empathy and respect. That comes when they are put together in simulated situations which need them to work together. Only well—designed training can provide that kind of learning.
Work on your processes
It is easy to continue using the same processes and programs, and more difficult to change them. One is worried about the acceptance levels within the employees. But do work on your people processes and programs, to reflect the kind of demographic composition that your workforce has. If you have multiple generations at the workplace, you need to create benefits that baby boomers or Gen X might prefer, allowances that Gen Y might prefer and flexible work arrangements that Millennials might like!
Making different generations work well together is a complex task. It needs a high degree of commitment and leadership buy-in. Focusing on those is the most important step.
The Post Graduate Program in Human Resource Leadership at SOIL, covers this critical concept of Diversity at the Workplace, in the curriculum.
To apply for PGPM in HR Leadership click the link – https://soil.formistry.com/
Written by: Simran Oberoi Multani
An Independent HR Consultant (14 years of Research, Knowledge development & Advisory Experience). TEDx Speaker. Cherie Blair Foundation Alumni. Founder-Ovenderful. Community Leader. Influencer. Published over 30 articles in People Matters, ISTD quarterly journal Human Capital, Oil Asia, Business Manager, Wall Street Journal Blog, PlugHR, SHRM website, Hindu, Business Line, Economic Times, Business Standard.