Generational Differences in the Workplace

  • April 16, 2024
  • Blog

The workspace can be a very diverse place, featuring colleagues of various ages, races, ethnicities and more. In Western culture, there are 4 generations commonly present in our workforce right now, from oldest to youngest: baby boomers, Generation X, millennials, and Generation Z. At POTENTE, we can proudly say that we tout representation from all those generations and it helps us ensure we are a strong, diversified team ready to tackle various problems in unique ways. The age of two employees in a workplace could be massively dissimilar and that can be a benefit.

Diverse workplaces yield many benefits such as more collaboration, innovation, faster problem-solving and overall better performance. Age is a factor in diversity and different generations tend to bring different skills to the table. According to Axios, as of 2023 Gen X and millennials are by far the most common generations to find in the workplace, with Gen Z being able to catch up to baby boomers as more boomers retire and Gen Zers grow up.

Generations have different workplace priorities. According to EY, their 2022 survey recorded that 92% of employees self-reported that culture remains a part of their decision to remain with a company. To contrast, for baby boomers the culture didn’t matter as much. However, the younger the generation, the more important culture became. The differences between generations can likely be attributed to their upbringing and the principles people grew up with. For example, millennials grew up with student loans and housing crises, so it isn’t a surprise that surveys assert that millennials look for money and job security as a priority in a job. Additionally, newer generations like Gen Zers are very technologically astute and bring young culture into the workplace, like memes.

One large generational gap that, when bridged, will ensure a productive and happy workplace is communication differences. Generally, baby boomers prefer face-to-face communication, phone calls and meetings. Gen Xers experienced the digitalization of our world and prefer straightforward communication through emails or other types of efficient communication. Millennials grew up as technology advanced and prefer authentic messages through more interactive mediums like Microsoft Teams and Slack.  Finally, Gen Z, who grew up with a vast amount of technology communicates online like it’s second-nature and is flexible between instant messaging services like Teams or Slack, or online conferences like Zooms and Google Meeting. While one should be cautious not to reduce every generation to their stereotype, it’s also necessary to acknowledge that there may be differences in how individuals prefer to communicate. The key is to balance the different types of ways to communicate in order to bring the best out of everyone. At Potente, we communicate in various ways to ensure our collaboration remains strong. Whether it be our face-to-face team meetings, emails between another, group chat texts or brief calls, we strive to be inclusive and have a way for everyone to communicate effectively.

Each generation has something unique that they’re bringing to the culture of the workplace and something that they’re looking for. Bosses should do their best to facilitate open and healthy communication between all the employees because having multiple viewpoints on how to solve a problem can be incredibly beneficial when it’s done in a coordinated and respectful way. Additionally, different generations are attributed with having different needs and by having a workplace that offers a healthy workplace culture, clear paths to promotions and bonuses, and team exercises to bring everyone together, a workplace can hit the needs of all the generations to keep everybody pleased.

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