As members of Generation Z join the workforce, employers more than ever must find ways to maximize productivity among generations. “While it may be true that there are indeed some differences between generations, many studies on this topic find there are more similarities than differences,” writes Jacob Morgan for Fobes.
So, what’s the best way to make things work for both your employees and your company? Here are four tips.
- Start a reverse mentoring program.
“For example, you might take someone who is 52 and great at team building and communication but not that great at emerging technologies, and pair them up with someone who is 22 and great with technology but lacks communication or project management skills,” Morgan writes.
Such programs can also help younger employees take advantage of more seasoned workers’ experience and expertise, writes Beth Miller for Entrepreneur.com.
- Create diverse teams.
Take things a step further and create consistent opportunities for members of all generations to work together. “As new projects come up, leaders should develop teams that draw from a cross-section of all generations,” Miller writes. “When setting up these teams, pull based on skill, rather than age and then diversify as needed.”
Remember it will benefit all involved, and as a result, strengthen your organization. “Traditionalists and Baby Boomers … can be a wellspring of ‘tricks of the trade’ that younger workers need to learn,” Miller writes. “Generation X can (serve) as mediators who value fairness. Gen Y can teach everyone a thing or two about technology and how to value work-life-balance.”
- Change things up.
Don’t shy away from empowering younger employees as leaders, or otherwise allowing people to take on diverse roles regardless of age, writes Roger Trapp for Fobes. “The point is that the managers are acknowledging the sorts of initiatives that might work for their younger employees, rather than simply complaining about how they will not respond to the traditional, well-rehearsed methods,” he writes. “Given the need for organizations of all sorts to come up with truly innovative ideas, (businesses should be) harnessing the energy and insights of mavericks.”
- Proactively manage conflict.
Tensions can arise within any workforce, especially one that’s highly age-diverse. “When managed effectively, that tension leads to innovation and greater collaboration,” Miller writes. “Effective leaders help teams work through their differences and understand that everyone has something valuable to bring to the table. Have processes in place for employees to raise issues, voice perspectives and resolve conflict productively.”
The work will be worth it. “When members of different generations are encouraged to work together, it builds understanding and trust, helping create a cohesive, yet diverse team.”