Generational Differences in the Workplace

A generation is a group of individuals within a particular age range who may have similar ideas, attitudes, values, etc. Having varied generations represented in a working environment is another form of diversity. Understanding the characteristics of your own generation, as well as those of your co-workers, can further develop this diversity, balance policies and encourage interaction that benefits everyone supporting inclusion. 

Strategies for working with colleagues from all generations

Expand your communication strategies

Make messages available in multiple formats. Use verbal communication for Traditionalists and Boomers while using email for Gen X and Millennials.

Clarify expectations

Always clarify expectations for the completion of a project or task. Traditionalist and Boomer bosses may expect a discussed task to be acted on immediately while Gen X and Millennials may be satisfied if it is on the to-do list.

Show respect

Recognize that a different method or time line for problem-solving and completing tasks could be a generational difference so have patience and show respect at all times. If you don’t understand their process (and if it is necessary for you to understand) – ask! 

Speak with facts

Even if you think your problem has to do with someone’s age or your assumption that they are slow or lazy, stick to the facts. Tell them what your expectation was and what you observed. Allow an open dialogue; perhaps you didn’t have the same expectation or your observation was inaccurate. Speak with facts, not with judgments.