November 20, 2015

5 Tips for Uniting a Multigenerational Workforce

Hot Air BalloonsThe American workforce is more diverse than ever before. This is especially true when we consider the ages of today’s workers. Four generations now sit side by side in our offices: baby boomers, Generation X, millennials, and Generation Z. Each generation is distinct from the others, and all four bring with them unique life experiences, expectations, and work styles that, if leveraged effectively, could have hugely positive impacts on your organization’s bottom line.

To give you a better understanding of how to cultivate a harmonious workplace culture in which your employees can work together to benefit your company’s growth, you may want to check out “A Guide to Leading the Multigenerational Workforce.” The guide was created by [email protected], the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s online MBA program, and is based on a white paper by UNC Kenan-Flagler Executive Development. The following are a few helpful tips for uniting a multigenerational workforce, sourced from the report:

1. Communicate with Each Generation According to Its Preferences

While baby boomers may want information delivered face-to-face, Gen. Z-ers prefer digital correspondence. Gen. X-ers want messages delivered informally and effectively, while millennials value the opportunity to provide feedback and to receive positive reinforcement. Each generation has a different preference when it comes to communication, so it’s important to avoid any one-size-fits-all approaches to communication.

2. Motivate Employees With Incentives That Matter to Them

Prior to developing incentive programs, take the time to get to know what inspires and what turns off the members of your workforce. It is important to understand what each generation values in order to create effective reward and recognition programs.

3. Develop Programs That Encourage Knowledge Sharing

Make sure the generations work with each other. Nearly 70 million baby boomers are expected to retire over the next decade, leaving room for a potential brain drain. Get ahead of the curve by ensuring information is being shared between older and newer generations. It’s this active education cycle that will be vital to the success of your organization.

4. Build Diverse Teams

BikeEach generation must learn how to value and trust the others. Provide opportunities for workers of all ages to meet by building diverse teams. Your employees will make better decisions at work if they have received broad-based input from multiple generational perspectives. You can expect to see increased innovation and creativity from dynamic, diverse teams.

5. Allow Business Leaders to Be Flexible in Their Management Styles

Generation X-ers may prefer a more hands-off management approach, but not all generations respond to this style. Millennials, for example, value constant feedback. Allow your business leaders to be flexible in their management styles so that they can adapt appropriately to each generation.

To learn more about leading a multigenerational workforce, download the full guide from [email protected]. Use the guide to learn how to recruit and retain employees at every level and leverage their unique strengths to benefit your business.

Read more in Workplace

Alison Napolitano is a Senior Marketing Manager at 2U where she supports all community outreach for 2U's programs. Alison has a background in digital marketing and a passion for helping great brands succeed online.