Bridging the Generation Gap

Many workplace environments are confronted with the challenge of having up to four generations working together at the same location. The diversity of generations is not just evident in the workforce; many organizations also have multi-generational management too.

A pitfall for managers is to believe that they can impose their own management style on everyone and get the desired results.After all, in their mind it is the best and most logical approach. However, an effective manager will take the time to learn how to effectively interact with each generation to get the most out of them in the workforce. But, this can be challenging particularly for younger managers who are supervising older workers.

Why is it vitally important to understand the differences in generations and the generation gap? According to Canada’s work/life balance guru, Professor Linda Duxbury of Carleton University, we are entering a seller’s market and it is the tightest labour market since the 1950’s. The focus for organizations must be on retention of existing staff. This will be difficult as the number of retirements is increasing, and the pool from which new workers (especially highly skilled knowledge workers) can be recruited is shrinking.

Organization’s can no longer afford to just talk about being good. They need to BE good. Younger workers are not mesmerized by the glossy song and dance routine that their parents bought into. They are asking pertinent questions and are doing their research. They will quickly learn if organizations are actually “being good”. This issue of “being what I am preaching” must be addressed within each workplace as recruitment cannot occur without dealing with retention first.

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