Today’s diverse workplace usually defines in terms of either gender or race. When it comes to describing it in generations, very few organizations do so. Nevertheless, four distinct generations make up the American workforce. First, there are the baby boomers, who value hard work and believe in the American dream.
Second, it’s Generation X, best known for its independent spirit, but also skepticism. Third are the Millennials, who have a strong sense of worth and entitlement, tech-savviness, as well as their need for meaningful work. Lastly, there’s Generation Z, the youngest of the four, born after 1997. Currently making up just over 5% of the workforce, they will soon be a force to be reckoned. So, how can an organization get anything done with such a diverse workplace?
The Work Ethic
Each of these working generations has its definition of work ethic. Millennials and Gen Zers don’t look at work the same as boomers and Gen Xers do. It has created the misconception that Millennials don’t like to work. But this is not the case. They merely don’t stick to the traditional format. Doing things during a specific period or in a set place is not their style.
Likewise, they want to feel like they’re making a difference with their work. For this reason, leaders should combine tasks with purpose, particularly concerning sustainability. Managers need to use values such as honesty, fairness, trust, dedication, and integrity into their leadership style if they wish to resonate with Millennials and Gen Zers.
You will need to talk to your employees individually to understand their exact preferences and work styles. Ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the rules, boundaries, and accountabilities.
Managers need to use values such as honesty, fairness, trust, dedication, and integrity into their leadership style if they wish to resonate with Millennials and Gen Zers.
The Work-Life Integration
Mobile technologies have made it increasingly more difficult to separate work hours from personal ones. Social media keeps people from keeping their head into the game for 8 hours straight, while email allows work to follow people back home. As a consequence, Millennials are all about adopting this flexibility into their lives, instead of shying away from it. It is known as work-life integration.
As opposed to work-life balance, where work is done on a strict 9-to-5 schedule, with work-life integration, work is blended with leisure and spread throughout the day. Inflexible workplaces tend to alienate, not only millennials but all other working generations. Some options for achieving work-life integration include telecommuting, flexible hours, job sharing, split shifts, etc.
Tailor your communication style to fit with all of your staff members. A diverse workplace may not prefer the same means of communication. While younger workers may prefer texts and messages, boomers and Gen Xers may respond better to emails and phone calls.
Regardless, you need to understand each employee’s preference regarding both the medium and frequency. As a leader of a diverse workspace, you must foster an environment based on mutual respect. Don’t allow people to focus on their differences and, instead, help them see their similarities.