The Generation Gap: What is it and why does it matter?
The generation gap is the age gap between each generation in the workplace. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as the difference of attitudes between people of different generations. Leading to a lack of understanding.
Today there are up to five generations in the workplace. Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y & Z. Previously, generations have always worked closely together. But in 2019, the gap is wider than ever before. With opinions miles apart, how do you close this back in for the sake of performance?
By 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000). Baby Boomers make up 1/3 of the workplace. The youngest Baby Boomers are in their 50s and the eldest turn 70 next year. Baby Boomers still have around 20 years of the work-life left. With that in mind, it’s sensible to plan, transfer knowledge and work on closing the generational gap.
The workplace should encourage group tasks to build teamwork. Open up discussions and add social events during work time. When different generations come together through activity, they figure each other out. It’s good practice to allow the workplace to relate, transfer skills and express concerns.
Aviva (the UK’s largest general insurer) identified a problem with their over 50 generations. Particularly in the marketing department. They later discovered that the older team members felt like they didn’t connect with the younger team members. This caused concern for Aviva as they were losing incredible talent. Through this experience, they created a programme called generations. This function supports all employees in different life stages. Fair representation is beneficial to overall business success.
What happens when employees retire? Is your workplace ready to pass on knowledge from older employees to younger ones? Employees can shadow individuals on route to retirement. Mutual respect will develop, the work environment becomes better and the business benefits. Some companies have mentorship programmes, where senior staff transfer their knowledge to others. Closing the gap becomes easier through mentorship programmes.
This video explains more about each generation and their collective experiences.
It’s important to close the generation gap at work. Whilst understanding the different needs of each generation and how they like to work. Identifying their strengths and weaknesses will help increase job satisfaction and positively impact workplace culture. The older generation is generally more skilled in traditional business they like to make notes with a notepad. Younger generations have grown up in the digital age and therefore know how to work better through digital channels, you can find them typing notes on trello.
Wide generation gaps often lead to miscommunications, which lead to conflict. This stems from having little in common and personal differences. This can produce a negative atmosphere within the work environment. Contributing to high rates of job satisfaction, people avoidance, high sick rates and high staff turnover. Recognising personal differences from generations and how they absorb information will allow you to alter meetings to suit all parties. A team that works together avoids missed deadlines,Identifying different strengths and weaknesses will help produce areas of mentorship. Here lies an opportunity for them to connect.
If you’d like to bridge the generation gap in your workplace, then check out Teamphoria. This easy to navigate application can be accessed through desktop, mobile or tablet. Allow employees to vent frustrations, give and receive awards and increase communication!