This is the final post on Bridging the generational gap, knowing the challenges illuminates the way on what kind of solutions will help build a cooperative culture between the different generations and harvest on their strengths and skills rather than focusing on the negatives.
Advantages of a multi-generational workforce:
• Teams can gain an edge by utilizing their wealth of experience and talent of each generation. Older employees to learn to trust and leverage the younger ones’ skills.
• Understanding the key themes for each age group can build a base for understanding and can reduce stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination. Build active engagement
• Increased innovation and creativity by sharing experiences, ideas, skills and perspectives bringing new solutions and opportunities for a competitive edge
• Mentoring and reverse mentoring: To fill the gaps of experience in each generation, and avoid the old mistakes.
• The team can attract and retain talented people of all ages, being more flexible.
• The team can gain and keep greater market share because its members reflect a multi-generation market, and can meet needs of a diverse public.
• Decisions are stronger because they’re broad-based.
To build an inclusion culture:
• Know the demographics- externally and internally
• Demonstrate respect and recognition
• Open channels of communications and dialogue
• Participative problem solving and decision making
• Comprehensive leadership of all generations
• Build on strengths, understand and appreciate them
• Offer options
• Transfer knowledge from older generation to younger ones as they have a tendency to keep all their knowledge and experience in their heads
• Start with a generational audit to grasp your internal demographics
• Conduct Diversity and Leadership training workshops. The training will use sensitivity making younger employees aware and sensitive to older employees’ needs, strengths and potential contributions. Also give information to older employees to be more aware of their own actions that foster widening the gap; as well as offering solutions.
• Train managers and leaders on the ADEA Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 – prohibiting discrimination of workers of 40 years or older
• Bring out the best in each employee, adapt to the styles and preferences of a multi-generational workforce and look through a generational filter to consider actions with employees.
• Host a Generational Awareness Week. Post photos that represent the generations. Include icons and popular expressions. Play music that is popular to each generation
• Write four versions—one for each generation—of an Employee Value Proposition, in a way to match each generation’s values, wants and needs.
• Review the benefits package; match them to appeal to each single generation.
• Design three rewards specific to each single generation.
• Review the makeup of the Board of Directors. To make sure they match the company’s DNA
• Learn about other generations beside yours. Ask questions, learn history, characters, motivation, and work preferences. Respect others.
• Ask employees from the 4 different generations about their ideal manager characters. Then, create profiles of four ideal managers—one for each generation. What do all the profiles have in common? Where do they differ? And think how to apply these findings
• Consider implementing inter-generational mentoring and generational employee-resource groups.
Companies are aligning jobs with the shared values of employees:
• American Express is providing more job flexibility, allowing people to work where and how they want;
• CitiGroup’s Alternative Solutions Work program; which provides opportunities for social contribution
• Ernst and Young‘s Corporate Responsibly Fellows Program which has instituted progressive work policies that value multiple bottom lines including sustainability.
• Time Warner and Cisco which has instituted inter-generational mentoring.
• Deloitte created a platform like Facebook D-Street to communicate with their GEN Y.
• Kaiser Permanente built an internal networking site called KP IdeaBook, an interactive site where employees can create detailed professional profiles, find and connect with colleagues via search and browsing capabilities, establish groups and provide status updates on work projects
Age is a diversity issue, the melting pot theory is not applicable anymore as melting everything down, gets everything mixed together into a mass of gray mud. The different groups lose their uniqueness. Everything becomes homogenous and loses the variety of perspectives. Potential goes untapped. So I rather look at diversity is a big bowl of salad with different color vegetable, each retaining its nutrition and flavor; that we can mix and match and choose our own dressing to match our tastes i.e. goals.
It is not singing “Kumbaya” but rather understanding and respecting our similarities and differences and putting them to work for us rather than against us.
Diversity starts at home