Strategies for leveraging generational diversity in the workplace

Today’s workforce comprises of individuals from almost four different generations. Here’s how you can create a work environment where all can coexist. By Priya Prakasan

A business is always the sum of its parts and a diverse staff of talented individuals is what makes a well-rounded organisation. Managers and leaders often find success by understanding and managing diversity in the workplace. Gender and generational diversity are both essential for an organisation to maintain a fine balance between the different workforce layers to achieve primary business goals. With the right mindset a leader can understand what drives and influences each of these different groups to develop a talented workforce and leverage what each has to offer.

1. Promote cross-generational mentoring
Make the most of the generational diversity in your workforce by developing a cross-generational mentoring program. It will ensure efficient knowledge transfer as well as facilitate cross-generational education and stronger interpersonal relationships. The younger workforce brings in agility, new perspectives, etc, while the older traditionalists can pass on their real-world experiences and hard-earned lessons. This type of a mentorship program will benefit both generations, minimise conflict and dissent, and increase employee retention, engagement and productivity.

2. Be open to inclusiveness
By being inclusive you will attract better talent as you’re widening the hiring pool. This outlook will also help you better retain the workforce you already have. You’re also promoting better teamwork, which leads to better and faster results when it comes to achieving common goals and objectives. By leveraging an age-diverse workforce you’re playing to each employee’s strengths, thereby increasing innovation and productivity, and in turn revenue. But an inclusive framework needs to acknowledge the subtle and striking differences between groups and take into consideration the learning preferences for each.

3. Adopt multiple forms of communication
As a leader you need to open the floodgates of communication for good business practices. Easy communication between age-diverse workforce layers is not always easy, so leaders need to adopt different forms to get things on the right track. Know and understand your audience before selecting your medium of communication. Use a mix of technology communication tools as well as the tried-and-tested face-to-face method.Though technology can help you to a great extent, a personal touch is often required to communicate the finer nuances. It also minimises misunderstandings that can lead to confrontations.

4. Banish stereotypes
Leaders need to create awareness of generational stereotypes and labels among their employees. Help employees recognise the fact that diversity encourages creativity and innovation.Negative perceptions can pose as barriers in a team and lead to rifts between colleagues. So employees need to be educated on how to disregard these typecasts and build an atmosphere of trust. This will lead to increased collaboration and productivity.

5. Mix and match project teams
A team’s make-up is a crucial part in its success in. A good leader knows it’s important to take into consideration diverse experiences and complimentary skills. Match employees so that you have a healthy mix of skills,experiences, and perspectives. This will broaden their horizons, prompt innovation, and lead to a better alignment of strengths. You need to think analytically to create the right combination by utilising all the resources at your disposal to ensure project goals are met.

Photograph: Katemangostar – 

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