By 2020 there will be five different generations of employees in the workplace. This diversification will alter general thoughts about how to best interact with other employees given the immense difference in age and perspectives.
Like Robert De Niro in his latest movie, the split between old and young in the workplace is becoming all the more prevalent as improvements in health care and medicine allow people to retire later.
As the divide is already becoming more pronounced, businesses have started gearing up for a change in management to accommodate the vast variety of viewpoints from each generation.
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Qualities that a work-experienced baby boomer brings to the table sit in stark contrast with the entrepreneurial tech mind of a new, Generation Z employee. Stuck in the middle of these two groups are the Generation X and Millennial generations that serve as bridges between the technology-laden future and the hard-working productivity of the past.
Conflict can start from having a mixture of ages in varying management roles, which can make particular groups feel out of place or out of touch with the generation they manage.
From a business standpoint, it is key to have an environment where every employee is physically and mentally healthy. Yet, when you have so many different mindsets and opinions clashing in the same room, everyone getting along may be easier said than done.
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Businesses aren’t the only ones trying to find accommodating solutions. Universities are preparing for this generational meld in different ways, with a focus on making students aware of the still-present older generations.
Students at Colorado State University have the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of programs to help understand their elders. One such offering makes students help older adults figure out how to take photos and save them on their new smartphone devices.
The program offers a chance for students to not only do some good for the community, but to also see and interact with a population that has substantial knowledge and longer experience than they do, with the hope that they can become more adept at mixing with an older crowd.
Beyond outreach programs, the University is also offering workshops to help aid specific instances of generational differences. The idea being that when this generation of students make their way into the workplace, they can have a better relationship with the baby boomer sitting in the next cubicle.
As businesses scramble to figure out new systems and universities attempt new ways to prepare their students, we are faced with one outcome: For the modern day office to work, it will take understanding both sides, old and young, to see the most efficient result. If the different generations are successfully blended together, the workforce will combine the best of both words – experience in successful management/work ethic and skill set for new technology driven economy.
Have you felt impacted by the workplace generation gap? Share your experiences in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook.