Three Challenges – and Possible Solutions – in a Multi-Generational Workplace

By Randy Wooden, Director, Professional Center by Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina

For the first time in our history, there are five generations in the workplace. While every person is unique, we see generational differences in how we conduct business and communicate, differences that can present challenges in the workplace. Let’s explore three today.

#1 Stereotyping Whether it is generalizations about baby boomers, millennials or other groups, you may have heard them. Educating workers on the positive aspects of generations and forming work teams with cross-generational workers can disprove stereotypical thinking. Collaboration allows team members to demonstrate their strengths and contribute to the overall plan.

#2 Communication styles Some workers use email, phone calls and face-to-face interaction while others prefer texting and instant messaging with abbreviations or acronyms others may not recognize. Asking employees how they prefer to communicate and using only company-approved systems for inter-office communication can ensure messages are effectively conveyed and received.

#3 Work style and company culture Work style and company culture go hand in hand: some workers are accustomed to longer office hours while others value flexible work hours or working from home. A company’s culture can foster greater productivity using virtual or in-person collaboration. The team can work together to know how to best make things happen.