Big Mistake with a Multi-Generational Workforce

It is absolutely crazy for me to think about how not only am I getting close to becoming an empty nester with my husband Matt, but our two youngest, Reese and Ethan, part of Gen Z, will be entering the workforce. In fact, the older part of Gen Z is already in the workforce, whether it’s because they’re taking on jobs right at 15, 16 years old, or a lot of them are already in more of that professional, corporate space because they have internships.

This is the first time I believe in history where we have five or six generations all working in this corporate environment together.

In the conversations that we have with organizations, this comes up – how do we handle communication and work effectively across these generations? On top of remote teams, hybrid teams, and oh, don’t forget the ever constant and consistent change that is happening in our companies, right? So, a few things for you to consider.

First of all, we want to avoid any sort of overgeneralization about how to communicate across the generations. Just like we don’t want to overgeneralize based upon gender, ethnicity, or race, we don’t want to overgeneralize based on generations. So although there are research studies that show some trends that are common across generations, we want to remember as leaders in our organizations that everyone is an individual human being.

Human beings have their own thoughts, feelings, emotions, and past experiences which determine how they then interact and communicate in the workplace. So really try to avoid the generalization thinking, “Oh, well, I know millennials prefer this and Gen X prefers this, and oh, I’ve heard Gen Z is this.” Before doing so, take the time to get to know and understand each of the individuals on your team.

Then, come up with that communication style and really make sure that you have some common ground to work with. As I think about my teenagers, they have slang, just like my generation, gen X has our own slang or how we might communicate. So think about those common ground phrases and the terms and what you’re going to say – literally what you are going to say, to make sure that we avoid any sort of miscommunication.

So reality’s here, we have five, six generations for the first time ever in the workplace, and as a leader, it’s our responsibility to make sure that we keep that communication strong and clear so that everybody’s on the same page and results can happen!