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The Great Generation Divide

Unlike ever before in history, we now have more generations working in the industry at the same time. We currently have four generations working together, or not in some cases. I recently had a millennial complain to me that they had a new employee, “a gen z” begin and that “they were just awful” following it up with, “if I had behaved the way she does when I started, I wouldn’t have a job!” To which I must argue, really, is this the case? Or do many of us have very short memories?

My argument being that I know when I was a young 20 something, I pushed buttons, I said inappropriate things and I made mistakes. I recently had a previous employer joke I had aged him 20 years in the almost 8 I had worked for him! I have an almost two year old that pushes boundaries every single day and while it is tiring, it is fantastic! Their job is to push the boundaries, to challenge the norm and is this not the case with the next generation? Hell I’m in my 30’s and I still push the boundaries where I can.

Psychologically speaking, the brain does not mature until the age of 25 and this benchmark has been argued to be the turning point from the adolescent brain to an adult. Now, I will get those from the younger generation who will argue the point with me that they are more mature and while I don’t disagree, the science is there. While it can be incredibly frustrating and challenging at times, it is a perfect opportunity to harness the energy that they bring and guide it into something successful.

One of the biggest challenges faced by employers is balancing the generations in their workplace and have them all on the same path to a common goal. Creating an environment that fosters mentoring among employees can assist in bridging the divide. Younger generations can learn from the wealth of experience that older generations have conquered, while older generations can learn more efficient and technologically advanced ways to carry out their tasks and learn something new.

It is also vital to deal with any conflict that may arise in the workplace. Rather than sweeping it under the rug, discuss the issues and foster an environment where employees feel that they can approach management with any issues that they may be having with their counterparts. It needs to be understood that all generations have something to bring to the table and it is important to deal with any conflict in a productive manner.

It is also a good point to remember that experience and the lessons can be learnt, enthusiasm cannot and while it can be time consuming to train someone the tricks of the trade, if they have the enthusiasm to make it then you are halfway home. Plus there is an abundance of great training like that on offer at REAL+ to help have your team hit the ground running in no time.

Each generation can learn from the one who went before in some way or another. Instead of complaining about them incessantly, how about work together as a team, harness the strengths, work on the weaknesses and build a better future for all.

Heidi Walkinshaw

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