There are a lot of debates concerning the mix of generations in the same work place and you cannot have missed a few volumes written on Baby Boomers, the Y Gen, the X Gen or some other Gen, as if suddenly the human resource field would talk about genetics instead of talking about people. Managers, companies and recruiters alike seem to fear this generation mix, as it seems it is not at all efficient: the young ones don’t have the skills and the knowledge of their experimented colleagues while on the other hand, companies prefer young people versus old ones, as they can find a lot of reasons for not hiring the later: technology overwhelmed, slow learning skills, not able to keep up with the fast pace, not available for becoming loyal to the company and so on. If we were to sum up all the drawback of mixing the young and the old in teams working together, it would take us forever and the results would incline towards not doing so.
And yet, mixing generations at the work place can be viewed as a positive experience for both the employees and the company, if managers would shift their view – point from negative to positive. At least, some smart guys from HRii in Cincinnati tried to during an organized forum. Taking into account a premise everybody seems to forget, that this moment in time isn’t the only occurrence of mixing generations at the work place, let’s see a few conclusions that might lead to solving this never ending problem of putting together different aged people to work for the same goal.
Why are people so determined to find the negative aspects of the generation gap?
Well, this is a trick question. You might be inclined to make the following assumption: hierarchy plays an important type. An experienced worker is less likely psychologically available to take advice from a younger, obviously less experienced team leader. Looking the other way around, young workers with older leaders feel that only the age plays a part, and not true competence. You might be inclined to believe that the young gen and the old gen will be forever engaged in a clash of egos and divergent opinions leading to failure. The conclusions drawn during the forum speak otherwise: there are a lot of prejudice going on and HR managers and company managers should overcome them. Instead of focusing on what can go wrong, they should focus on what can go right and this is a continuous reciprocal learning and challenging process that is vital to the company, employees and, ultimately, the success of the company.
How should the company get involved in solving the generation gap problem?
Just because people are different, come from different experiences, age groups and places, this doesn’t mean it is a bad thing for a company. Uniformity kills creativity and turns people into robots, so mixing generations at the work place should be planned and designed by the company’s HR specialists and manager so that people and business thrive from such mixing. There is no room for arrogance, lack of communication and lack of sharing of knowledge and experience between people, because such organizational flaws can shake a company to the core and in these troubled times, managing human resources means more than filling up papers and signing paychecks. Managers should learn exactly who their employees are and co – workers should be let to cooperate, mistake, learn. Team buildings, trainings, mentoring programs and understanding that they all fight for the same cause no matter their age are just a few examples managers can get inspired from.
Overcoming the issues
Maybe the old guy doesn’t want to work withe the bohemian graduate, while the average aged guy is too worked up and too determined to do his job right and get that promotion to have to teach somebody new what to do or to start fearing the young competition. The young ones don’t actually like to be treated as disabled children and will compete fiercely among them. Solving all these issues, giving them all the room and the time to express their issues, wishes, goals and expectations, being taught to work together and being supported in common projects is the manager’s job.
Mixing generations at the workplace is no easy feat, but a pool of different people, differently gifted, with multiple backgrounds and perspectives on things can actually be more beneficial than detrimental if recruiters, company HR specialists and managers do their job right.