4 Communication Tips for Managing an Intergenerational Workforce

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Heidi ThielContent Creator for Siege Media

Friday, February 28, 2020

As a senior HR manager, it's your responsibility to build an intergenerational workforce that communicates with one another. Here are 4 communication tips.

Article 4 Minutes

Organizations today face a unique challenge – an intergenerational workforce made up of employees from five different generations. The differences in culture and beliefs across these generations can lead to several challenges, including how each age group communicates and processes information.

When hiring and managing new team members, appreciating the differences and valuing the skills and talents of each individual can help you build an intergenerational workforce that communicates as a cohesive and interconnected whole.

To best manage your employees, you need to understand their backgrounds and where they’re coming from. Of course these are generalizations based on each generation, and each person has different preferences as well.

Heres what you need to know about each generation, their work values, and how they best communicate.

Todays working generations

Each generation has their own identity, with attitudes and principles they bring to the workplace.

Generation Z (1996 – to the present)

More Gen Z employees are entering the workforce every day. Similar to millennials, Generation Z has been born into the age of technology, using the internet and social media more passionately than any other generation.

Core work values:

  • Independent
  • Eager to be included as a team player
  • Confident and eager to learn and often choose to work with mentors
  • Looking for work fulfillment

Communication style:

  • Video calls like FaceTime
  • Text and email

Millennials (1977 – 1995)

Millennials are the largest generation in todays workforce. Confident and optimistic, this generation has a reputation for being self-absorbed and highly competitive.

Core work values:

  • Ambitious and creative
  • Good at multitasking and being flexible
  • Placed importance on work-life balance
  • Focused on career advancement

Communication style:

  • Text and email
  • Reliant on Google to find information

Generation X (1965 – 1976)

Generation Xers are loyal, hard working, and looking for a challenge in their career. Well educated and creative, this generation enjoys thinking outside of the box. Often considered go-getters,” Gen Xers are eager to succeed.

Core work values:

  • Self-reliant and work well on their own
  • Have high expectations for both themselves, coworkers, and management
  • Work best when given direction and structure before beginning a project
  • Focused on work-life balance

Communication style:

  • Email and text
  • Prefer information to be sent along with a copy

Baby boomers (1946 - 1964)

Self-motivated with a strong work ethic, baby boomers are focused on their retirement and financial stability. This generation brings a lot of experience to the workforce and is always looking for learning opportunities so they can stay current with their knowledge.

Core work values:

  • Workaholic mentality
  • Positive work ethic and believe that anything is achievable
  • Team-oriented and seek the respect of their coworkers

Communication style:

  • Face-to-face or through a phone call
  • Prefer to receive information with a print copy rather than digitally

Traditionalists (born before 1945)

The oldest generation in the workforce, traditionalists are dedicated to their job and will put the company first over their own personal life.

Core work values:

  • Disciplined and patient
  • Have a strong respect for authority and follow the rules
  • Eager to share their experience with other team members

Communication style:

  • Prefer the written word over digital email and text
  • Receive information best through a letter or face to face

Effective intergenerational communication tips

Understanding the values and preferred communication style of each generation can help you communicate more effectively with each individual both when recruiting and managing.

Use these tips to promote communication across all generations:

1. Use a preferred method of communication

When relaying information, consider what communication channel works best for each individual. Although there’s no right or wrong way to send information, each generation has a preferred method that works best for them.

2. Combine communication formats

Work with management to blend communication methods with all employees. When putting together a team thats made up of intergenerational employees, focus on using more than one channel of communication. Combining communication formats ensures that everyone on the team gets clarity and receives information in a way they can best understand.

3. Develop effective communication skills

Using effective communication skills can help you interact positively and productively when recruiting and dealing with hired employees:

  • Use open body language when communicating, such as maintaining eye contact to show your interest
  • Actively listen and refrain from interrupting
  • Ask questions to show that you’re empathetic and care about what’s being communicated to you
  • Be clear and confident when speaking. Taking a minute to summarize what you’ve heard can clarify the message so there’s no misunderstanding

4. Avoid generational stereotypes

Dont let the perceived stereotypes of each generation affect the way you communicate. Evaluate the skills and talents of each individual and what they can contribute to the company. Talk to other managers and employees about the importance of letting go of the preconceptions that are often defined by age.

Conclusion

Its important to recognize that hiring a team of intergenerational employees brings a vast amount of skills and experience to any business. This diversity in generations can also create communication gaps as each group receives and sends information in different ways. Understanding these communication differences can help you overcome the challenges of hiring and recruiting employees, promoting a successful and productive work environment.

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Heidi Thiel

Content Creator for Siege Media

https://www.siegemedia.com/

Heidi is a writer and content creator based in New York City. When she’s not covering business and leadership pieces, you can usually find her in a coffee shop or hanging out with her bearded dragon.

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