Is your office a mix of young whipper-snappers and seasoned vets?

Well, our recruiting professionals say “bravo!” Each generation — Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and the most recent addition to the work force, Millennials — bring a different perspective to the job.

Although Baby Boomers have more experience in how it has always been done, including a few ways it should never have been done, the younger generations bring a fresh perspective. The infusion of technology from a young age allows those in their 20s and 30s to think in a more global manner than those that have been in the work force for over twenty years.

Each generation brings strengths and challenges; but no one population has all of the answers.

Mary Bauer of Demand Media has written an article entitled Generational Workplace Differences in which she outlines the motivations and challenges of Baby Boomers, Gen- Xers and Millennials. In part, she has this to say:

Millennials are arrogant kids who feel entitled. Gen-Xers are whiners with no sense of loyalty. Boomers are workaholics. These are the stereotypes, but, at the heart of it, each generation strives to live according to its unique value system. Generational differences, a form of diversity, present an opportunity to bring different strengths and perspectives to bear in workplace problem-solving.

Making Generational Differences Work

One of the keys ways to combat the tension and lack of understanding that may arise within an inter-generational workforce is a concerted effort to gain a clearer understanding. Our team offers insights as to how to effectively build a team that includes members across generations. As a Chicago sales recruiting firm, we have experienced a number of opportunities to learn from our clients over the years and the key ingredient for success, understanding.

In a recent article by Matt Sedensky entitled Push for Workplace Harmony Focuses on Generational Awareness, he emphasizes the importance of being aware of the different motivators each generation values.

Put people of widely different ages together – and there are bound to be differences. Baby boomers, for example, are workaholics, while younger workers may demand more of a work-life balance.

The solution for a growing number of companies: generational awareness training to help foster understanding and more effective communication among their workers.

Employees are taught about the characteristics that define each generation, from their core values to their childhood and adolescent experiences to the type of figures they regard as heroes. Then workshop leaders typically drill down into how those attributes play into the strengths and weaknesses each age group offers on the job.

What is the Solution?

Everyone on the team has a responsibility to:

  1. Communicate
  2. Respect
  3. Try to find a way to learn from the other

Jenna Goudreau, a Forbes staffer had this to say in her article How To Communicate In The New Multigenerational Office:

The solution won’t come from any one person or generation. “Each party thinks it’s the other person’s problem,” says Dana Brownlee, president of corporate training firm Professionalism Matters in Atlanta, Ga. “The responsibility is really mutual.” Being aware of the differences is a good start. More than that, she encourages people to talk about them, to demystify what’s unknown or misunderstood.

It starts with a baseline of respect. “Go out of your way to learn from each other,” she advises. Older workers can lend their vast industry knowledge and experience. Younger workers can shed light on demographic, pop culture and technology trends. “It starts with a coffee or a walk.”

Do You Need Help?

Is your team struggling to work together effectively because of inter-generational issues?

Give our experienced recruiting professionals a call. We’ll listen to your current situation and offer suggestions to help build an operational model that works together for your future business growth.