Understanding Millennials in the workplace - Part 2

In part 1 of this series, we busted a deep-rooted misconception about millennials in the workplace and how they pursue career development.

In part 2, we take a close look at the engagement and productivity challenges presented within multi-generational workspaces and how managers can bridge the generation gap for better engagement and productivity.

In praise of a multi-generational workforce

Recent evidence shows that bridging the generation gap in the workplace can have a positive impact on productivity levels and overall results. A recent study by McDonald's shows that their multi-generational workforce not only enhances the franchise’s business performance, but also resulted in employees feeling 10% happier, along with improved customer satisfaction.

Claire Hall, Chief People Officer for McDonald's UK, said of the results:

“As these insights show, teams that bring together a mix of people of different ages and at different life stages are fundamental to creating a happy and motivated workplace and to delivering a great customer experience.

"The age range of our people at McDonald’s now spans an incredible 75 years. Diverse and committed restaurant teams will remain at the heart of our business and I hope other employers will recognise the benefits.”

Bridging the generation gap

The UK’s workforce comprises of three different generations which have each been raised against the backdrop of diverse social, economic and historical landscapes. This has led to individuals from each generation being stereotyped by management teams based on the year they were born. A generalised perception only succeeds in ignoring the complexity and diversity of humans from all walks of life.

In order to successfully foster collaboration and increase productivity within a multi-generational workforce, it’s imperative that HR professionals and leaders strive to overcome existing stereotypes in order to promote synergies, mutual respect and consideration.

According to a recent study by PwC, millennials say that they are actually comfortable working with older generations and value mentors in particular. However, there are signs of tensions.

  • 38% said that senior management do not relate to younger workers
  • 34% said that their personal drive was intimidating to other generations.
  • Nearly half of respondents felt that their managers did not always understand the way they use technology at work.

Rapid demographic changes in the workplace coupled with the incorporation of new generations into managerial positions may lead to conflicts in defining organisational values and culture. For this reason, HR managers of organisations participating in the Best Workplaces awards agree that, as millennials are entering into the job market in ever increasing numbers, organisations should have a deep knowledge of coexisting generations’ needs and expectations in order to anticipate potential engagement threats.

Top tips to manage a multi-generational workforce

  • Recognise the advantages of having multiple perspectives from employees and managers of different ages.
  • Provide age diversity training so everyone understands the myths about each age group.
  • Offer cross-generational mentoring by pairing employees from different age groups and different positions within the company. A focus on technology provides a great way to bridge the generation gap and skills gap at the same time.
  • Provide communications training to make it easier for everyone to work together.
  • Recognise the benefit of flexible working hours for all life stages.

Click here for our third and final part of this series, where we outline practical steps employers can take to retain the millennial workforce!

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