Handling diversity in work environment is very challenging and it needs more co-operation from the employers to meet the variety of generations and effectively make them work. Generational diversity is slightly on higher end, where all generations would be working together and ability to make them relate with each other and work is a huge task.
If generational diversity is very effective in an organization, it means the employees can build an organization with more power and bring out a better performance. Some of the things which disturbs the workplace are racism, gender, cultural background, sexual orientation, and disability.
These kind of discussion might make the environment more heated and that too they have a lots of generational gap, which might end in politics in workplace.
Generational Diversity Meaning:
A generational diversity is ability to make people of different generations work effectively in the same environment. A generation is generally defined as a group of people who are divided unto categories depending upon the age boundaries. And it is believed that these group of ages tend to think alike, have a same attitude, share same values, especially hold a same opinion about the work related arguments or share same kind of experiences.
Even though, it is said to be sharing same experiences, the reality differs. Generations are quite complicated. It is merely an approximation of categorizing them into generations. But the generational characteristics proves quite matching and helps to understand the individuals better.
Generations are basically divided into four categories. They are,
- Generation x.
This generation was born between 1920 to 1940 and they belong to the age category of 60 – 80 years old. The workforce of this generation is only approximately 5% and almost most of them are retired. These generation people were born at the time of world war.
Few people who belong to this generation are still working. They are the people who have considerable power in the organization, and have few unique characters like
- They are very hardworking.
- They strictly follow rules and live by ethics.
- They have a sacrificing mindset, when it comes to job or anything.
- Strictly committed to the job or workplace.
- Not motivated to enjoy or have fun in workplace.
- They hold a lot of respect to the job position.
- Takes responsible for outcomes quickly.
This generation people were born between 1946 to 1964. And they belong to the age category of 40 – 60 years old. This generation people are called boomer who were born at the time large social change happened in the world. They constitute more than 45% of the workforce. This is a good percentage when compared to other generations in the workplace.
This generation people were said to be more self-absorbed and it was a time where education was considered as an up lifter to the entire lifestyle. This generation had so much of respect to the previous generation, and used the core values for self-development. Some of the core values of boomer are,
- They are very optimistic.
- They believe in team work.
- They are the people who give importance to health and mental wellness.
- They respect individual performance and gives priority to individual well being.
- They are workaholic.
- They are dedicated and have lots of involvement in their job role.
This generation were born between 1960’s to 1980’s and they belong to the age category of 20 – 40 years old. This particular generation contributes 40% of the workforce. And from this generation there was lots of changes in work atmosphere and their lifestyle from the previous generations.
This generation faced lots of changes in work place as this generation faced the first phase of corporate roll back. This made the generation X people move towards the entrepreneurial spirit than being in corporate. They believed working is only to livelihood and not for the organization.
This was a total mental change from the previous generation people. Some of the generation X characteristics are,
- They are the people who are adoptive to diversified mindset.
- They have a capability to work globally.
- They have a good work life balance.
They are the people who believe in self reliance.
Informal work life are the trend of generation x.
This generation people belong to age group of 20 years old born after 1980’s. Millennial are the youngest generation among the generation groups and they contribute just 10% of the workforce.
One of the prominent characteristics of this generation is versatility of using technology. This generation age group are the rulers of technology. They were born to survive the Internet world.
Previous generation people are no strangers to technology but millennial generation characteristics are the people who knew nothing other than the survival of technology. They are the people who made communications easier and faster. They made world more connected and ensured that the world is more connected through network.
Millennial do not have a particular time frame of work life but they are known for the flexibility, and are very matured to be in the field which has a generational diversity. Some of the basic attributes of them are,
- They are very optimistic.
- They have lots of civic responsibility.
- They are very confident people.
- They have more social responsibility.
- They are very adoptive to diversified nature in work environment.
- They believe that growth is dependent on technology.
Benefits of Generational Differences in the Workplace:
1. Organization works round the clock:
This is a big advantage as when matures or boomer believe in 9 – 5 shifts, the other two like to work the rest of the work hours. This makes the organization work round the clock.
2. Various view points from different generations for decision making:
Every generation has a different mindset in approaching a problem. So, when all the generations are present in a place, the organization tend to receive various view points, which will help them to make a clear decision.
3. Never say die attitude:
When an issue arises in office, all generations work together to make it back to form. This is very much possible as when generation drops in confidence other generation might help in revive to be going further. This seems to be good advantage when working in a generational diversified place.
Challenges of the Multi Generational Workforce:
Any work environment with various age groups will have multi generation workforce. Right from Matures, boomer, to millennial all will work in same environment. There are few factors which might be a hindrance to multi generational workforce. They are.
- Working style.
- Cultural difference.
There are lots of difference in communicating style between the older and younger generations and that is a very common issue between the multi generations. Right from sending text messages, emails, tweets, and instant messages old generations do not prefer do it as it is not a very formal way.
Matures and boomer generally prefer to communicate in a formal way like letters or memos which is considered to be outdated. Informal formal communication has been never welcomed by matures or boomer. They always tend to keep documents in a written format than a soft copy.
Here the issues arises between the multi generations as they wanted everything to quick and instant rather prolonging it using old methods. This brings lots of misunderstanding and arguments among the employees in reference to communication.
There are lots of difference in working style of the multi generation. One important change is the time period. Except for the generation x and millennial, others have a stereo type mindset of working from nine to five shift. But the other two generations always stick to flexible work hours and can work over nights too. This is a major change in working style.
When coming to cultural differences, there is a huge change between the generations. One among them is work timings are calculated for the salary negotiation. This is considered as a huge disadvantage to the millennial as they do not stick to particular work hours and they believe in finishing the work and leaving the office.
These are the some of the prominent challenged in multi generational workforce.
Generational workforce is something which has to be encouraged and which will keep increasing even after few new generations from matures, boomers, generation X, millennials to generation z will add-on.
Organization has to implement more training sessions and implement good management ability to encourage generational diversity. This will surely be an effective change in the workforce generations as all we need is a better workplace irrespective of the generations working together.