How to Manage the Challenges of a Multigenerational Workforce to Unlock Its Benefits

This is the first time in the modern age that five generations have been in the workplace at the same time: traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and Generation Z. It’s also a time when more women from multiple generations are in the workforce, especially in industries like roofing and contracting.

This great diversity in age, culture, values and more adds new strength to the organizations that have employees across the generational spectrum. The differences among these defined groups have naturally sparked a few challenges too. That shouldn’t scare off anyone hoping to build a multigenerational team. There are plenty of things businesses – including those in the roofing industry – can do to manage the challenges and realize the many rewards of a truly diverse workplace.

Challenges of a Multigenerational Workforce

According to generational researchers and experts, there are various challenges facing a multigenerational workplace, like those listed here. These and other notable challenges, as well as advice on how to address them, are included below.

  • Focusing too much attention on one group over others
    With millennials being the most recent group to enter and shake up workplaces, a lot of managers and leaders have focused efforts on tailoring their team to millennial needs. Since these young workers are inherently comfortable with new technologies, some businesses are appeasing their younger workers with the “latest and greatest.” This might be effective for millennials but may not be best for a baby boomer. Instead, managers need to focus on company culture and what is best for the entire team. Each person should be taken into consideration, and the needs of the company and its culture need to drive these decisions.
  • Differences in workplace values
    Major cultural events and atmospheres like the Great Recession, the Cold War, the rise of the internet, human rights disputes and many more have a strong impact on a generation’s values. The importance of material success, desire for structured or flexible work hours, social activities and other values vary among groups in the workplace. It can certainly be difficult to cater to everyone’s needs when they can differ so much. To address this, demonstrate flexibility with everyone you manage. Keep your workplace open and adaptable to multiple kinds of work styles and attitudes. Some workers may need or want to work remotely or at different times of the day, some may want more of a focus on physical accolades over verbal feedback, and some may want social activities with coworkers while others do not. Consider how you can incorporate this flexibility while staying true to your company culture.
  • Communication styles
    Communication is cited as a common pain point in generation gaps. Communication style and comfort varies greatly between generations. Don’t adopt the newest communication technology just because millennials might like it. Instead, strongly consider using multiple communication channels. These may include different personal communication styles like email, text, instant chat, phone calls, video chat, social media and more.

Benefits of a Multigenerational Workforce

The diverse range of perspectives and experiences from a multigenerational workplace may come with challenges, but it also generates plenty of awesome benefits like two-way learning (a mentorship where each person teaches something to the other), increased representation and the host of benefits that each generation offers.

Employees from different generations all have a wealth of knowledge to share with one another. For example, a millennial may be able to share new ideas about technology and new cultural trends, and a baby boomer may teach another worker more about business intuition.

This may also be the first time that some women have had other women in roles both above and/or below them. This representation allows for a newer sense of camaraderie that didn’t exist before. Women may now have coworkers who can relate more to their circumstances or perspectives than in the past, which can allow for greater professional possibilities and opportunities.

Looking for more tips on how to best manage your workforce? Check out ABC Supply’s blog for other tips like these and more.