Understanding Communication Differences between Generations

Aug 25, 2015

Understanding Communication Differences between Generations

Today, a typical office includes different generation groups working together as a team. These baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials teach, learn, and excel in different ways. Understanding how every team member best communicates is key to creating a productive and successful environment.

There are many baby boomers running businesses today. Some are working to transition into retirement, while many do not plan to stop working at all. According to AARP, nearly half of baby boomers see themselves working until at least age 70. It may be a stereotype that baby boomers need to stretch their tolerance to work best with their younger coworkers. However, baby boomers will need to work to stay up to date with emerging technology.

Generation X employees tend to be more self-managing, which is most likely a result of growing up with parents who were workaholic baby boomers. It is important for hiring managers recruiting and retaining this age group to understand balance. Encouraging flexible schedules and independence will help your "Gen X" employee succeed. Even though they are very independent, members of this generation group will always welcome constructive feedback. Overall engagement works best when managers foster trust and spend one-on-one time with these employees.

Millennials are the newest generation age group in the workplace. It is a common perception that millennials have a tendency to be entitled and impatient and expect instant gratification. But this group can bring a lot of potential to the table. Growing up with technology, this group is very savvy with online and other technological media. To retain your millennial talent, offer positive feedback and a strong work-life balance. Most millennials would rather not have a job than be stuck at one they hate. To keep millennial employees the most engaged, leaders must be transparent and open to employees being themselves at work.

There are a few ways to effectively engage these various generations across the board:

  • Set clear expectations for formality when it comes to office communication, culture, and corporate settings to avoid frustration across generations.
  • Utilize different forms of communication—from face-to-face to even texting—to ensure no generation feels alienated by the medium of messages. This will also help each group adapt and embrace other methods of communication.
  • Focus on and adapt to each person. When communicating with each person, remember what works best for him or her.
  • Be willing to learn and teach. Whether you are brand-new to the workforce or have been running the show for years, this is key to effectively communicating across age gaps. Showing respect by learning from another employee will go a long way—and may help when trying to teach him or her something.

With the office filled to the brim with people from different backgrounds and cultures and now age, it is imperative to embrace and acknowledge all of the many differences. ZERORISK HR's Team and Communication Development Program can help your organization achieve its business goals and identify the core successes of your team that will in turn build effective teams. Knowing and understanding the members, no matter the age, will help to create a strong team!

ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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