How to Communicate in a Multigenerational Office
With more and more Baby Boomers working past retirement and new Millennials entering the workforce every day, multigenerational offices are becoming the norm. Throw in the Generation Xers and you have yourself a hodgepodge group of workers from drastically different backgrounds.
Complaints from Boomers, Xers and Millenials
One of the major complaints is how these different generations choose to communicate. Millennials seem to prefer more removed and instant forms of communication such as texting, email and inter-office messaging. Xers may toggle between technology and in-person communication. While older generations are more likely to use a one-on-one approach such as phone calls and meetings. Many Millennials are more likely to seek out guidance, feedback and acknowledgment than other generations. This leads others to think of Millenials as needy or high maintenance while other generations can seem uninterested.
Another common complaint is how the different generations approach working. Older generations have the mentality that you are lucky to have a job having lived through being or seeing other laid-off. With this comes company loyalty and dedication; many of these individuals are fine staying at work long after closing time to finish the work that needs to be done. On the other hand, Millennials are taught that you don’t want to stay at one job for too long. They know there is more money to be had with a job at a new company than if you were to be internally promoted to the same position.
Bridging the Generation Gap
Experts recommend deciding upon a preferred method of communication and simply relaying it to all your employees. This involves setting clear ground rules of what is expected with both internal and external communications. If you have a high patient call volume you may prefer for your employees to communicate mostly through email to avoid tying up the phone lines unnecessarily, or perhaps you believe that face-to-face problem solving works best. This could be implemented by opening up the conference room for anyone who needs to have a place to meet.
Your job is to find a solution on both ends. Accept that some of your employees may benefit from acknowledgment of a job well done while also refraining from giving undeserved praise.
The best way to handle a multigenerational office is to listen to your employees and get to know them. Figure out what everyone can bring to the table; younger workers may be more computer savvy while your older employees have more industry experience. At the end of the day, try not to feed into stereotypes. Each one of your employees is much more than just an age.