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The importance of a variety of viewpoints and perspectives in an office cannot be overstated. Your workplace has strived to increase gender equality, racial diversity, and background experience in your office. But have the higher-ups really done enough to make sure the wide range of ages in the workplace is adequately represented?
Just by taking a quick look around your office, you can really see whether or not they have. Are there older employees that have been with the company for what seems like decades? How about younger employees who have just started to figure out their career path and role within the company?
Believe it or not, this diversity is incredibly beneficial to have.
But with age diversity comes a number of challenges, namely getting employees from vastly different generational backgrounds to come together and produce results. Not surprisingly, this is a challenge that many companies are facing with young Gen-Z entering the workforce and many older generations putting off retirement.
Time and time again we hear that there are very real benefits to having a more diverse workplace. For example, employees with different backgrounds and world views are able to bring a different perspective to old problems. These differing viewpoints could even lead to new solutions to problems and/or a workflow that increases efficiency and allows for greater focus on more pressing tasks.
Beyond that, in a diverse workplace where employees are able to collaborate together effectively, studies have shown that creativity abounds. All this working together can lead to a very rich and interesting company culture, which in turn can increase employee satisfaction.
Happy employees are more productive and, ultimately, will help increase company profits over a longer period of time.
Many companies that have created a diverse work environment and cultivated a great company culture are places that people remain loyal to. Retention is less of a concern when the work is rewarding and the people are great to work with. Likewise, these businesses are those that are most likely to attract the top talent in the field, further improving workplace productivity and overall vibe.
Although the benefits of diversity in the workplace are very real, there is definitely some footwork involved in getting there. After all, it can be a real challenge for employees to find common ground when the generational gap is so large. Ultimately, it comes down to the work of the managers to facilitate a workplace environment that encourages relationship building and employee collaboration.
It is important to remember that though the differences in employee ages and experiences may be vast, they really probably have more in common than initially thought.
Some surveys have even suggested that there is very little difference in workplace goals between generations and actually more variations within generations. The manager’s job is simply to break down the initial barriers and help employees realize their commonalities.
Communication is key here — getting past the stereotypes that surround each generation and digging down into the actual traits of each individual employee matters. As employees begin to work together and gain common ground and understanding, the pieces will fall into place.
Remain focused on common goals and what brings employees together rather than what makes the divide larger in this instance.
Though every employee deserves help when necessary, there may be a greater need to help some of the younger employees in the coming years. Doing so can spur their career development, help them to learn good work-life balance and habits, and create a greater loyalty to the company that will encourage them to stick around longer.
The fact of the matter is that many younger generations have likely been balancing numerous tasks for a long time and may not have very great work-life balancing skills. For example, many younger employees likely had to work in tandem with attending school and are used to having to do both just to make ends meet.
By failing to develop work-life balancing skills early in their career, employees are more likely to burnout or fail to perform when they really need to.
With the Coronavirus pandemic and in full swing, including office policies and regulations in place to manage infections, many of the newest employees don’t know of any other way to work.
This changed workplace can make it difficult to meet fellow co-workers and get to know the ropes of how the job is done — especially if the company has been teleworking for almost a year now. All of this can be deeply discouraging to young employees and can greatly impact their performance. Taking the time to reach out and provide support can make a significant difference here in ways that other, more seasoned employees don’t need (and can actually offer).
Working with a multi-generational workforce can provide a number of very real benefits, especially through the different perspectives it can bring to the table. As a manager, perhaps the most important thing you can do to ensure employees succeed is to facilitate an environment where communication is valued and common ground is found.
Younger employees will likely need additional support that others may not, and recognizing this will help them develop into great employees that stick with your company for a long time.