How to Create a Multigenerational Workplace

November 12, 2021

The article "The 37-year-olds are afraid of the 23-year-olds who work for them" sparked one of the most passionate arguments online this week. It went on to discuss the conflict between Millennial managers and Gen Z employees over issues such as work-life balance (which Gen Z expects), bringing your values to work (which Gen Z not only does, but also expects you to do), and communication norms (I was disappointed to learn that the laughing crying emoji is so passé).

That said, I had to giggle since this piece might have been written about the Millennials fifteen years ago. What matters most to each generation may shift in subtle ways, but new generations in the workforce always bring about change. WeSpire published an overview of Gen Z's expectations some years ago.

Many of these shifts are for the better. Above all, Millennials and Generation Z have pushed businesses to be more positive forces in the world, to be healthier, more sustainable, and more inclusive than earlier generations.

The piece's title, on the other hand, shines a light on one of the drawbacks of generational differences: dread. Fear in the workplace, whether among managers or workers, Generation Z or Baby Boomers, is bad for business. Indeed, we know that psychological safety — the capacity to take chances and be yourself at work without fear — is critical for high-performing teams. As a result, you must ensure that all generations feel comfortable – and involved – at work.

So, how can you foster a generational inclusive culture?

Begin by determining if various generations in your business feel safer or less secure. There was a premise in a project with a computer services client that older workers felt less comfortable in the workplace because of tech-specific ageism and a disproportionate share of recent layoffs.

We were able to debunk that theory and demonstrate that, contrary to widespread assumption, younger workers are less likely to feel secure.

Ensure that everyone's psychological safety is improved. Amy Edmonson discusses three strategies to promote psychological safety on any team in her excellent TED presentation on the subject: Recognize your own fallibility and frame the job as a learning challenge rather than an execution problem. Demonstrate interest by asking a lot of questions. Many Millennial managers, in my opinion, believe they must have all the answers when, in reality, admitting that you don't and asking questions might help alleviate the worry.

Create chances for generations to learn from one other through fostering relationships. My parents spent a lot of time with students in college. I believe it helped them keep up with developments in music, politics, and technology.

Gen X and Boomer leaders, on the other hand, have seen everything from the stock market meltdown in the late 1980s to 9-11, the Great Recession, and a worldwide pandemic, and can share a wealth of knowledge with younger workers. We all develop when we go outside of our generational cages and engage with one another as people.

I also believe that a cornerstone to psychological safety is being extremely open about your own organization's cultural standards and expectations, so that individuals of any age may determine whether the culture is good for them. Given the worldwide nature of our clientele, I have advised prospects on several occasions that working at WeSpire is not a 9 – 5 position.

We are quite accommodating and don't expect you to work insane hours, however you may be on call at 7 a.m. or 8 p.m. Flexibility, respect, trust, and transparency are valued by employees of all ages.

We have 10 more years in the workplace with four generations to profit from the different abilities and talents that each of us brings to the table. Every generation has shortcomings, but overcoming generational anxieties allows us to work together to create a better working environment.

Thanks to Susan Hunt at Business 2 Community whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.

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