Bridging the Gap & Navigating Generational Differences in the Workplace

June 13, 2024 Employment Law

Bridging the gap between generations can be a critical step toward building an inclusive and productive work environment. It can also be easier said than done. Generational barriers often go unacknowledged (or at least undiscussed); and, over time, this can start to create parallel work cultures that lead to ineffective communication, information silos, and other workplace challenges.

So, what can (and should) companies’ human resources teams do to bridge the gap between generations in the workplace?

The short answer is, “It depends.” Bridging the gap in some workplaces will be easier than others; and, depending on the nature of a particular work environment, older or younger workers (or both) may be more resistant to working with their team members from different generations. With this in mind, here are five tips that can help get the ball rolling in most circumstances:

5 Tips for Overcoming Generational Differences in the Workplace

1. Encourage and Incentivize Collaboration

Co-workers who collaborate on projects and work together to achieve goals will have a better understanding of how they each operate—and this will help to tear down invisible walls. With this in mind, companies seeking to navigate general differences will often find success by encouraging and incentivizing collaboration.

2. Foster Open and Regular Communication

When it comes to bridging the gap between generations, effective communication is critical. But, before co-workers from different generations can begin to communicate effectively, the first step is to get them to communicate at all. Thus, taking steps to foster open and regular communication can be an important step for companies to take as well.

3. Consider All Workers’ Priorities and Needs

While younger workers may be more likely to prefer working from home, older workers may prefer going into work like they have for the past 20, 30 or 40 years. Likewise, while younger workers may deprioritize traditional benefits like health insurance coverage, these benefits could be very important to their older colleagues. When considering new workplace policies, benefits, and incentives, it is important to give equal consideration to all workers’ priorities and needs.

4. Leverage Generational Strengths (with Caution)

One way companies can build high-performing multi-generational teams is by focusing on having individual employees do what they do best. With that said, while leveraging generational strengths can be valuable, companies must be cautious not to make assumptions about individual employees’ capabilities.

5. Make Sure Managers and Supervisors Don’t Play Favorites

Finally, as discussed in an article published in the Harvard Business Review, it is important to make sure that managers and supervisors “don’t play favorites.” Senior and mid-level personnel should lead the way in bridging the gap—and favoring employees from certain generations over others can thwart a company’s efforts in other areas.

Speak with a Workplace Consultant at AR Group

Do you have questions about what your company can (and should) be doing to navigate generational differences in the workplace? If so, we invite you to get in touch. To speak with a workplace consultant at AR Group, give us a call at 720-452-3300 or tell us how we can help online today.