Managing a Multigenerational Workforce

Industry Matters Newsletter

Today’s workforce employs members of five different generations, often in one office. While this presents some challenges, it will also produce great benefits with the help of an exceptional manager. Roberta Matuson advises managers on some challenges they’ll face and how to overcome them as managers of a multigenerational workforce.

Remember that there are differences between how younger and older employees work.  Generally, younger workers need more feedback than their older counterparts. To manage this group effectively, tell your employees exactly what you need. If you’re busy at the moment, schedule a time later to meet one-on-one. With more feedback, the employee’s confidence and ability to work independently will increase over time. Older employees value a company’s loyalty to them and they need you to show through your actions that you plan on keeping them. Transparency is key with older employees and they want their concerns to be heard—tell them that they are valued and seek out their opinions and ideas. 

When you train a multigenerational workforce, Matuson says, provide multiple training formats, because employees in different generations learn differently. Seek employee feedback to ensure that the program works for everyone. 

To make generational differences work for you in the workplace, you have to acknowledge your workers’ differences—look at each person’s strength when you assign work. Establish values of trust and respect on your team. Introduce mentoring and reverse mentoring programs to help your employees get the most out of one another. If possible, pair up employees from different generations on projects.

Generational clashes are inevitable in a workplace that employs people from five generations. How you manage those classes can make or break how an office functions.To get your team to work across their differences, identify the common thread among them. Uncover their hidden biases so they can overcome those barriers. Encourage open dialogue between your team members on the clock, and give them time to get acquainted off the clock. A multigenerational team is an incredible asset when you train them effectively.