Meet The Multigenerational Workforce

Understanding the differences between generations

03, Oct, 2016

In today’s workforce, it is common to see colleagues represented from as many as four different generations, working together.  While we all assume that employees have the same goals when at the workplace, we see this is not necessarily always the case. Adding the fact each generation possesses different strengths and weaknesses means it is important to better understand the various generations we potentially interact with.

Understanding the Different Generations

While different sources will list the age ranges of each generation slightly different, the generations currently found in today’s workforce are commonly known as the Pre-Boomers (aka Veterans, the Silent Generation and Traditionalists), Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y (aka Millennials). 

With distinct personality traits and working styles, Huffington Post breaks down those traits like this:


In relation to technology professionals, each generation can also have very specialized skills and knowledge in respect to the tools, equipment and computer software each generation is accustomed to. Consider this – on a particular team, you may have one employee used to performing calculations on a slide rule, while the younger employee is doing complex math on the newest computers!

So with all the differing expectations and capabilities, it comes as no surprise to see some of the challenges working within multigenerational teams.

The Most Common Pitfalls

Business News Daily describes three common challenges when working in a multigenerational workforce:

1.  Communication

Older generations tend to have a higher level of formality in language, while tech-savvy younger generations tend to be somewhat more informal. Often, language is equated to respect, and a breakdown of communication can be mistaken as a lack of respect.

2.  Stereotypes

In relation to the workforce, stereotypes can often prevent workers from recognizing the talents of colleagues. When an employee assumes a colleague is a certain way because of the generation they represent, it can prevent team progress and success.

3.  Cultural expectations

As you can expect, different age groups prioritize work in different ways. Older generations measures their performance by the number of hours spent at work to get the job done, while younger generations value producing results and achieving a work-life balance.

Depending on the generational style of you and colleagues, there are many opportunities for employees to misunderstand each other and prevent teams from working in the most efficient ways possible. However, employers that can get each generation to respect – and utilize – the unique talents of its employees, will often be the most successful.

Interested in more information? Check out our Understanding Generational Differences webcast.

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