Newsflash: There are generational differences in the workplace. Have you heard about it? (I’m dripping with sarcasm here people)
There are articles, presentations, videos, reports, posts, podcasts, and more. You name it and it has been talked about, ad nauseam. Like many issues that come up in the HR world, we spend time talking endlessly about the problem but not enough time on the solution. Generational differences in the workplace are no different.
There are labels and definitions for each generation. Are you a Boomer? Gen X? Gen Y? We’re told how each generation feels and thinks and why they can’t relate to all the other generations. But you know what? At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.
IT DOES NOT MATTER
There have always been differences from generation to generation. If we could spend as much time perfecting how individuals can work effectively together as we do on talking about how generations don’t, we’d have the most productive workforce ever.
So, how do we do that? One thing that occurred to me recently was that when I meet people via social media outlets, I never even think about their age. I have older friends, younger friends, and age is not an issue. They are mostly HR professionals and I have had some great collaborating experiences with them and age has never come up. If anything, any differences in our ages made our output better because we were incorporating many different viewpoints.
This social attitude needs to be brought into the forefront at the workplace. We should be designing work experiences and rewards for behaviors such as:
- Focusing on the quality of the work, not the age of the employee.
- Staying relevant no matter what your age. Reading, networking, sharing ideas.
- Getting to know what works best for individuals, not their generation.
- Refusing to categorize employees based on age or generation when building a team.
We will never be able to fully understand the events that shape behaviors of people born in a different generation because we did not live through those events. Why not agree that although differences exist, we must not focus on them. Instead, focus on similarities in the values and behaviors that we share. That is what will bind strong teams and build more productive workplaces.