Talent Management

5 Ways to Help Ease the Generational Gap in the Workplace

Generations at Work

With the recent flood of college grads landing employment, some companies are getting nervous about how this so-called “Entitlement Generation” will interact with senior professionals in the office.

There seems to be a polarization between the two groups, and it may stem from assumptions.

Does senior staff see Millennials as impatient, unprofessional and lazy? Maybe.

Do Millennials see Baby Boomers as unapproachable or outdated? Possibly. However, this can be changed.

Age is not a default to success, but execution is. In reality, I’ve found that many Millennials are brimming with potential … they just need a little guidance and the right management style.

At the other end, some Baby Boomers are just too proud to seek help from younger professionals and need a little push.

5 ways to help get generations working together

Here are a few strategies to adopt to encourage Baby Boomers and Millennials to work effectively with one another:

  1. Use reverse mentoring – When pairing younger employees with senior professionals, the belief is that both parties can learn a substantial amount from the other if they take time to do so. Younger employees can ask candid questions of their mentors about successful work tactics, and experienced employees can gain information about the ever-advancing world of social media and technology, while gaining a fresh perspective.
  2. Non-traditional training — Instead of having entry-level staff go through training, why not switch the roles and have them train the Gen Xers on the new technology such as Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.?
  3. Compile diverse teams. This comes down to hiring practices and personnel placement. Team members should come from different backgrounds, experience levels and have varied interests. The most productive and innovative teams share few similar characteristics. Pairing generations in the workplace allows a company to ensure that they stay ahead of the curve while still maintaining sound processes and values.
  4. Move desks often: Having staff rotate desks to be around a mixture of age groups can bring a new spark to the workplace, boost energy and increase moral. It’s a simple concept that’s easy to implement and carries measurable results. Mix up the Baby Boomers, mid-senior careerists and Millennials.
  5. Promote internal communication. Encourage employees to get up, move around the office and talk to co-workers. If impromptu meetings and idea-generation sessions are encouraged, employees are more likely to take advantage of them.
Tom Gimbel is the founder and CEO of La Salle Network, a staffing firm based in Chicago. Founded in 1998, LaSalle has served thousands of clients and candidates, placing job seekers in temporary, temporary-to-permanent and permanent positions.
  • Scott Span

    Tom,

    As a Gen Y (cusper) I thank you for making the point, “…that many
    Millennials are brimming with potential … they just need a little guidance and
    the right management style.” I often find when doing generational
    diversity work with organizations ( http://goo.gl/fUQSz
    ), particularly those with Boomer leaders, that this point is often
    ignored. The guidance in the form of feedback and coaching is often saved for
    other Boomers or Gen X in management positions. This is counter productive. One
    of the biggest points of conflict exists between Boomers and Gen Y is due to
    lack of communication and misunderstandings of work styles. Leaders can’t
    expect these issues to be resolved if they’re not willing to offer the
    commitment and guidance needed to resolve them.