Challenges in the Multigenerational Workplace

There are lots of interesting challenges working in the multigenerational workplace.  In my office, we have Baby Boomers, Gen-X, Gen-Y, and Millenials.  There are also an interesting number of cultural collisions between the generations.

Electronic Communication in the Multigenerational Workplace

It’s worth remembering that the current generation entering the workforce has always had cell phones, and texting is a standard form of communication for them.  Sending texts may not be considered “appropriate” by older generations.  It is also not uncommon to see text speak in emails, or in other communications.

Baby Boomers many times prefer to use the phone to communicate, and Gen-X may be somewhat ambivalent about the phone.  I haven’t seen too many millenials who are willing to pick up the phone and talk to people but there are a few.

Gen -X tends to really like instant communicator, but I’ve seen friends also use a lot of texts to communicate.

The thing that seems to generate the most scathing comments online, and eye-rolls among my friends is the use of text speak, particularly when not a part of texts.  My younger daughter has a blog, and uses a lot of text speak, and it certainly makes me roll my eyes.  I’m certainly she’s perfectly capable of communicating more carefully, and yet, it comes across in text speak.

Managerial Interaction in the Multigenerational Workplace

One of the things that I’ve seen commented on in the media, and have experienced myself is how the overall interactions between employees and their managers is wildly different between the different generations.  It is truly something that you have to experience to believe, and it could very well drive someone insane, especially if they are trying to manage people in a different generation.

For the older generations, who may be reading this- Baby Boomers and Gen-X, our interactions with our management is usually fairly minimal.  And we prefer it that way.  We don’t expect praise for doing things, and on the whole, prefer to figure things out ourselves, and be very self-contained.  It’s not that we don’t work well with others.  It’s just that we don’t necessarily have to work with others.

That is totally different from the “average” millenial.  As a rule, they tend to prefer more hand holding, more verbal feedback, and more interaction in general than the generations before.  They also prefer to travel in packs, and are very team-focused.

This can make for some very interesting interactions between the generations.  Frustration on the part of the older generation as well as the younger generation when they clash.  Two very different approaches, and both are good.  I think that keeping the differences in mind when dealing with people is important, because each person needs to be treated differently, and is an individual.

What cultural clashes have you observed between the generations at work?

Please let us know what you think!