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  • Writer's pictureTshegofatso Moilwe

Intergenerational diversity in the workplace

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

An integrated approach to merging three current generations in the workplace - GEN Z, GEN X and Millennials.

“How old are you?”

It’s not a question you’re typically asked by a colleague, but your answer will likely reveal a great deal about your attitude to work.

If you are a “Gen X” or a “Millennial” (born between 1965-1980 and 1981-1996 respectively) you’ve spent most of your working life in an office. You know what it’s like to have a zealous team leader checking you’re at your desk and you’re well versed in gossip around the proverbial water cooler. Dare we say it, you might even be in charge.

People standing around a watercooler

But if you were born a member of “Gen” Z from 1997 onwards, your experience is markedly different. On Monday mornings, when someone struggles to get the camera working on the weekly Teams or Zoom call, you’re playing the role of IT support, teaching less technical senior members of the team how to use tools that come naturally to you.

So, how can a team with different generations create ways of working that enable everyone to thrive?

An integrated approach to merging the three current generations in the workplace, Gen Z, Gen X, and Millennials, requires understanding and adapting to the unique characteristics and preferences of each group. Here are two suggestions to create a work environment where everyone can thrive:

1. Create a team charter:

Teams should set aside time to develop a team charter, which is a document that outlines the team's mission, preferred ways of working, communication methods, conflict resolution approaches, and more. By involving all team members in this process, it allows everyone to contribute their perspectives and agree on the best way to move forward, considering both the team's mission and individual preferences.

When deciding on the hybrid ways of working, the team should consider the ideal environment for different tasks. The office can be valuable for collaboration and relationship-building, but it can also lead to unproductive busywork. On the other hand, working from home may be suitable for individual work, but some team members may prefer working together in the office. Finding a balance that accommodates different work styles and preferences can help create a harmonious work environment.

2. Regularly reflect and update ways of working:

Teams should schedule regular meetings, perhaps once or twice a month, to reflect on their current ways of working and identify areas for improvement. By asking questions such as "What is working well that we should continue doing? What isn't working for us that we should stop doing? What new approaches can we start implementing?", teams can engage in a continuous improvement process. This ensures that the team remains adaptable to the evolving needs of its members and can effectively integrate new team members as they join.

By embracing these approaches, teams can foster a culture of collaboration, understanding, and continuous improvement. This will help bridge the generational gaps and create a work environment where everyone can thrive and contribute their unique strengths.

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