What the generations can teach each other at work

by Rossa Brown

Baby boomers, Gen X-ers, Millennials – they all have their own areas of knowledge. Here’s what we can learn from each other at work.

With people retiring later, organizations often have employees spanning several generations. Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers, Millennials – they’re all part of the modern workplace. And they’re being joined by the latest group to enter the employment market – Gen Z – whose oldest members were born in 1995.

Having a mix of age groups offers great opportunities for companies to reap the benefits of age diversity

Having this mix of age groups offers great opportunities for companies to reap the benefits of age diversity. Different perspectives, life experiences, and new work and communication styles can all feed into the creative mix and boost productivity.

Here are a few things the generations can learn from each other.

New communication styles

Ways of communicating that are second-nature to so-called digital natives might feel slightly less natural to older age groups, particularly those at the upper end of the Baby Boomer scale.

Millennials in the workplace value access to the latest technology.

This group will be happy with new tools and technologies that enable them to better connect with their teams. Receiving and providing real-time feedback with live video, for example.

Or using a Workplace group to share and edit project documents and collaborate more quickly and effectively with local and global teams.

On the other hand, older workers have accumulated plenty of experience in getting their point across in face-to-face meetings.

Both can pass on what they know, giving supportive feedback both on and offline, to help each other feel comfortable in different situations.

Work experience

Baby boomers and Gen X-ers have the benefit of decades of experience in the workplace. They understand workplace politics and organizational hierarchies and have experience that younger people will lack.

They’re likely to be skilled in their own roles and immersed in the organizational culture

Plus, they’re likely to be skilled in their own roles and immersed in the organizational culture. They can share this knowledge informally, or through mentoring schemes, which are easy to set up using Workplace integration Cortado.

But young people have plenty to bring to the table. Their experience of being in education more recently and their knowledge of different cultural touchstones may resonate with clients and help in product and service development.

Changing work expectations

Younger employees have high expectations of work. 76% of Gen Z-ers see themselves as owners of their own careers, while millennials in the workplace value frequent communication from managers and look for rapid career progression.

76% of Gen Z-ers see themselves as owners of their own careers

These attitudes can encourage older employees to look afresh at what they want from work, reinvigorating their ambition. At the same time, their loyalty and perseverance are a positive example for younger colleagues.

Better collaboration

If you’ve managed millennials at work, you’ll know they tend to respond less well to traditional, top-down styles of management and prefer a more collaborative approach.

Millennials tend to respond less well to traditional, top-down styles of management

This can benefit your whole organization. More open approaches to collaboration can bring new ideas and innovative thinking that you might have been missing.

Seeing their younger colleagues sharing ideas and making contributions using collaboration tools like Workplace will spur their older counterparts to take part too. A win-win situation for employees of all ages, and for your organization.

Workplace helps teams work better together. See for yourself and try it free for 90-days.


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