Employers should embrace generational differences in the workplace: survey

The greatest generational differences in today’s workforce are employees’ communication skills, ability to adapt to change and technical acumen, according to new research by Robert Half Management Resources.

The survey, which polled more than 2,220 chief financial officers in the United States, asked respondents to identify where they see the greatest differences among the different generations in their workplaces. A third (30 per cent) said communication skills, while 26 per cent said adapting to change, 23 per cent said technical skills and 14 per cent said cross-departmental collaboration.

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Only seven per cent didn’t see any variances among the different generations. “Managing a multigenerational team doesn’t have to be hard,” said Tim Hird, executive director at Robert Half Management Resources.

“For example, for years employers complained about how the work styles of millennials were disrupting the workplace. We know now, however, they simply have different outlooks, and the resulting changes from employers, such as new communication methods and enhanced work-life balance offerings, have benefited companies and employees alike.”

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When it comes to communication style, the research also found baby boomers tend be reserved, generation X favours an assertive approach, generation Y prefers a collaborative style and generation Z mostly value in-person interactions.

As for change in the workplace, generation X and Y employees tend to see it as a path towards new opportunities while generation Z view it as the norm.

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As well, the generational groups differ in terms of how they like to learn in the workplace. While every generation expects some kind of training, baby boomers and generation X value traditional instructor-led courses or self-learning tools, while generation Y and Z prefer to learn mainly from collaboration and technology.

Employers should embrace these unique approaches from the different generations, noted Hird. “Too often, managers see these differences as negatives, but building a team with diverse perspectives, insights and strengths can only be a positive, leading to improved products and service levels.”

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