More and more, HR departments are being called in to handle reported incidents related to age or generational diversity, equity and inclusion and are being asked to address problems in a way that speaks to the company’s mission and core values.
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Human resources departments have primarily focused on interpersonal issues related to racial or gender diversity. Now generational diversity has come to the forefront. There are now five generations working side by side in the workplace. While teams truly appreciate the age and generational differences, there are challenges arising, particularly in the areas of collaboration, working style preferences, and communication. A 2018 Randstad USA study showed that 86% of workers prefer to work on multigenerational teams (defined as those who are least 10-15 years apart in age).
Multigenerational Diversity Training
Diversity Builder has some of the top generational diversity trainers in the country. Our programs meet employees where they are in their journey and are customized for industry and multigenerational focus areas. Diversity Builder’s training classes explore generations in the workplace, practical strategies to promote generational leadership, how to build community across generations in the workplace, generational differences and similarities, and how to leverage differences as strengths.
Multigenerational Diversity in the Workplace Learning Objectives
- Recognize five generations in the workplace and some common characteristics and experiences
- Gain awareness about stereotypes and microaggressions that contribute to harmful behavior that excludes others
- Increase understanding about communication styles related to generational differences
- Build skills to increase generational connectedness, knowledge sharing, and leadership development
- Learn practical ways to connect with people who identify within different generations to build better relationships and leverage team strengths
Benefits of age differences on work teams
- Higher retention rates
- Increased client base in sales organizations
- Improved succession planning
- Higher performance and innovation
Studies have shown that teams which are develop innovative ideas and creative solutions to challenges. There are a number of other benefits in having the difference in perspective that often comes from generational differences.
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Why is generational diversity a challenge?
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when trying to encourage generational diversity and inclusion is ageism. Also known as age discrimination, this is a protected class by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
According to workplace surveys conducted by Glassdoor, nearly half of employees (45%) report having experienced or witnessed ageism. The EEOC criteria for age-based discrimination covers employees 40 years of age or older. Thus, it is illegal to discriminate against anyone 40 years old or older. Based on Glassdoor’s research, younger employees (52% of ages 18-34) are more likely than older employees (39% of ages 55+) to have witnessed or experienced discrimination based on age.
Age-Based Communication Preferences
In addition to age discrimination, communication between generations is a big challenge among teams. According to multigenerational workplaces scholar Amanda Grenier, older and younger generations have different ways of speaking, although such differences may or may not be present. This is due to having different social historical reference points and different culturally determined experiences.
Generational diversity is not going away. If we want to create long-lasting businesses, we need to tackle these challenges.
How to Collaborate Successfully Across Generations
The way you can create a thriving multignerational culture is by educating employees. Make sure that they understand the differences in history and communication styles for each generation. Help them reject the stereotypes and misinformation about generations perpetuated by media while at the same time understanding that every generation has developed their worldview in relation to the world in which they grew up and their lived experience.
How do we begin to build strong generational teams? First, begin by having candid conversations with your teams about generational differences and similarities and individual experiences, that differ for each person. Learn more about biases and ensuing microaggressions which cause great harm in the workplace. Begin practicing intentional inclusion and avoid stereotypical comments, inappropriate jokes, and generational-based sarcasm.
From there, create multi-generational teams as often as possible, and intentionally find ways to have face-to-face interactions with members of different generations. Consider setting up employee resource group to address generational issues and make generational diversity a part of your ongoing initiatives.