Strategies To Foster Intergenerational Harmony in the Workplace

The median age is rising across the United States, a trend that is expected to continue.

In the workplace, age isn’t just a number. Embracing generational diversity can improve knowledge, performance and culture. But too often, age-related stereotypes lead to conflict, disengagement and legal claims.

Be aware of the challenges

Generational differences may exist in preferred ways of working, including when and where to work. Employees may have different pressures and priorities at different life stages. Gaps in pay, technical knowledge, experience and communication styles can also create tension.

The Silent Generation and Baby Boomers

The number of employees over 55 has doubled since the early 2000s. More than four million Americans will turn 65 this year and every year through 2027, reports Yahoo Finance. 

Some members of the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers feel like they are being pushed out or removed from consideration for specific roles because of their age. Since 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been resolving around 12,000 to 15,000 age discrimination cases a year.

Generation X and Millennials

Generation X is often called “the forgotten generation.” Many Gen Xers feel overlooked as they balance workplace duties with caring for young kids, aging parents or both. 

The same is true for many millennials, who make up the largest cohort in the workforce. They are seeking improvements to work-life balance, office culture and salary disparities.

Generation Z

Generation Z (Gen Z) will soon surpass the workforce percentage of baby boomers. Many members of Gen Z entered the workforce amidst unprecedented global crises, and they are still catching up on interpersonal communication and workplace conflict skills in remote and hybrid arrangements.

In short, every generation faces challenges. It’s essential to understand their viewpoints. Supporting your diverse employees and integrating their skill sets is about more than managing legal issues and discrimination claims. Organizations work best when employees embrace their differences and share their strengths.

Embrace multigenerational strengths and differences

Differences between employees shouldn’t overshadow the advantages of multigenerational workforces. Advantages include:

  • Diversity of thought. Different generations bring unique insights, skills and experiences. Together, these contributions can enhance innovation, problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Customer and client relations. A workforce with broad experiences can better meet the needs of diverse customers and clients.
  • Workplace culture. Working together reduces stereotypes. It encourages employees to appreciate different skill sets and work processes. Respectful interactions lead to better collaboration, engagement, retention and organizational continuity.
  • Resilience. A more comprehensive range of knowledge, people skills and technical know-how can help your company withstand disruptive forces. Drawing from diverse abilities and experiences increases your resilience in the face of emerging technologies, social movements, political crises and economic challenges.
Strategies to embrace employees of all ages

Addressing your employees’ varied needs is vital to creating intergenerational harmony. The following three strategies can enhance your workplace for all generations.

  • Customize your communications.
  • Use diverse training practices.
  • Provide voluntary benefits to meet different needs.

Customized communications

Each generation wants to feel valued and respected. Using their preferred forms of communication creates goodwill. Customizing your communications can demonstrate respect and expand your reach. It’s an important caveat that members of each generation are not uniformly alike. Ask managers to get to know the individual preferences of their teams.

However, as a general rule, older generations gravitate toward in-person conversations and phone calls, while younger generations prefer instant messages, text messages and social media posts. Emails tend to be universal. Develop a communications strategy across platforms to highlight the strengths of age diversity and the benefits of collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

Diverse training

Generational differences can also be seen in training preferences. Offer various opportunities to reach your employees where they learn best. Members of the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers may prefer classroom learning and in-person workshops. Gen X, millennials and Gen Z may prefer webcasts, apps and on-the-job training.

A two-way mentoring program is an effective way to pair employees of different ages and experience levels. Older employees can pass along institutional knowledge, experiences and insights from decades of decision-making and dealing with different personalities. Younger employees can explain new trends and ways of working, including emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.

Voluntary benefits

Voluntary benefits offer another way to meet different generational needs. Voluntary benefits can supplement your core offerings, allowing you to expand your reach without increasing benefits costs. Employees pay for some or all of their voluntary benefits, but they receive the advantage of vetted resources, group rates and automatic payroll deductions.

Voluntary benefits let employees select offerings that meet the needs of their life stages. You can assess your offerings each year to ensure they’re aligned with generational needs. Options may include:

  • Dental and vision benefits
  • Tuition assistance and student loan repayment programs
  • On-demand or faster-access paychecks
  • Free or reduced-cost apps for financial wellness, mental health and career development
  • Gym memberships
  • Life, short- and long-term disability, critical illness and hospital indemnity insurance
  • Caregiver benefits such as backup child care and elder care resources
  • Pet insurance
  • Financial counseling sessions
  • Retirement education and Medicare information
  • Phased retirement programs
  • Volunteer programs
Examine your offerings

For more information on workplace practices and benefits offerings with multigenerational appeal, talk to your insurance broker or benefits adviser. They can help you align your resources with workforce needs to get the most from your diverse employees. 

For more information

Need help with HR? Reach out to our Human Resources Consulting team.

This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.

Please note coverage can not be bound or a claim reported without written acknowledgment from a OneGroup Representative.

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